INTA held its first of two Delegation visits to China this year from January 19-23. INTA 2015 President J. Scott Evans led the series of seminars, government meetings and membership functions, accompanied by Co-Chair of the In-House Practitioners Committee, Chris Turk; INTA CEO, Etienne Sanz de Acedo; China Chief Representative, Seth Hays; and Anticounterfeiting Advisor, Maysa Razavi.
China Trademark Association
On January 20, INTA’s delegation met with Secretary General Jiang Ruibin of the China Trademark Association (CTA). INTA and CTA relations have been expanding over the past year, following the first meeting with Secretary General Jiang in May 2014 at the Hong Kong Annual Meeting. The two organizations have been exchanging delegations to each other’s events, most recently with INTA 2014 President Mei-lan Stark attending the China Trademark Festival in Suzhou in November.
CTA has been busy implementing a new testing system for trademark agents to enhance regulatory oversight in line with the recently amended Trademark Law. Interested in international practice on this topic, INTA will explore conducting a global survey of jurisdictions that test their trademark bars and provide these best practices to its counterparts in China and elsewhere.
Another notable initiative of CTA is the formation of the China Brand Research Institute, in partnership with local universities. This Institute should provide a platform for the trademark community to link up with businesses and conduct research, such as producing a list of the top 500 brands in China.
INTA will continue its deepening exchange with CTA. The Association looks forward to hosting a large delegation of CTA members at the Annual Meeting in San Diego. Additionally, INTA anticipates attending CTA’s Trademark Festival this year in October.
State Administration of Industry and Commerce
Following the meeting with CTA, INTA’s delegation headed to the State Administration of Industry and Commerce (SAIC) to conduct a meeting with Department Director Mdm. Liu Yan of the International Cooperation Department and two deputies from the China Trademark Office and the Trademark Review and Adjudication Board. Joining the delegation for this meeting was Dr. Huang Hui of WAN HUI DA and Chair of the Trademark Office Practice Committee—China Subcommittee.
Last year was a busy one for SAIC, with the implementation of the new Trademark Law in May of 2014. SAIC provided an overview of their trademark operations, noting the high numbers of applications and correspondingly high number of examiners needed—2.28 million applications last year required over 1,000 examiners, employed directly or through outsourcing. SAIC also noted that it was the top jurisdiction for Madrid System filings.
Ms. Liu also overviewed the proactive enforcement campaigns undertaken by SAIC, which included some 63,300 cases, of which 33,300 were trademark infringement cases.
Despite the very busy schedule across the board, from registration to enforcement, SAIC was proud to note that it is currently meeting the time limit of nine months for examination, as required by the statute.
INTA hopes to continue engaging SAIC officials, whether through future delegation visits or through invitations to INTA educational events at its meetings and conferences.
Office of the National Leading Group
On January 21, INTA held a meeting at the Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM), which included representatives from the Office of the National Leading Group on the Fight against IPR Infringement and Counterfeiting (NLGO), the Department of Treaty and Law and the American Legal Affairs Department. Leading the group was NLGO Director, Division of Supervision and Liaison, Tan Jian.
INTA hosted delegations from NLGO over the course of 2014, not only at its headquarters in New York, but also in Hong Kong at the Annual Meeting. A delegation also recently visited the New York offices on Friday, January 30, 2015.
NLGO has been focused on the topic of Online Counterfeiting as a chief priority for 2014. Notably, Mr. Tan mentioned that enforcement officials, in partnership with intermediaries were able to use “big data” to prevent repeat infringers from posting fake goods numerous times on a site. By analyzing data in aggregate, such as the wording of posts, IP addresses and other data points, online market places were able to efficiently and effectively reduce the number of infringing goods posted online. INTA has been closely watching and supporting the efforts of NLGO to fight online counterfeiting, providing opportunities for government, brand owners and online intermediaries to have productive discussions (see below for INTA’s education seminar on the subject).
NLGO and INTA discussed not only the practical aspects of fighting infringement, but the social and psychological dynamics involved in the selling and purchasing of infringing goods. Both sides agreed that educating youth should be a priority. INTA introduced its Unreal Campaign, the Association’s educational program for high school students, which includes online videos and in-classroom sessions run by INTA members. While the Ministry of Education is not included among the ministries overseen by the National Leading Group, there are various efforts underway to raise awareness of the dangers of counterfeiting among China’s youth.
One major project for MOFCOM is assisting Chinese companies with protection of their IPR abroad. INTA is currently undertaking research with partners on the extent of bad-faith registration of Chinese brands abroad, and will share this data with the larger community when it becomes available.
Supreme People’s Court IP Tribunal
On Friday, January 23, INTA concluded its meetings with Chinese government officials by meeting with the Chief Judge of the Supreme People’s Court (SPC) IP Tribunal, Song Xiaoming, and Judge Wang Yanfang. INTA was delighted to host SPC judges at its Online Counterfeiting seminar (see below) and to meet at the Supreme People’s Court—a truly a prestigious location to conclude the week of government meetings.
The meeting’s discussion developed from the topic of online counterfeiting. Judge Song noted that e-commerce is becoming the norm for shopping, and certainly figures for online sales reflect that—as demonstrated by the immense sales incurred during China’s Singles’ Day (November 11). As part of China’s “new normal,” online commerce will be a primary driver of middle class consumption.
Both sides were eager to share information. The SPC on World IP Day publishes 10 typical cases of influence from the previous year, and trademarks play a leading role. INTA and the global community look forward to this year’s publication.
Last year, WIPO established an office in China. INTA visited Lu Guoliang and Zhang Junqin, WIPO’s China representatives, in the stunning classic hutong (Chinese courtyard) setting.
Mr. Lu had kindly participated as a speaker in INTA’s seminar on brand building registration strategies earlier in the week, highlighting the importance of China to the Madrid System. He noted that China is the number one destination of filings, and ranked about sixth in terms of originating applications.
Importantly, China is currently in the midst of the legislative process for accession to the Hague Treaty on Designs. While it might take some time for amendments of the laws to bring China into the Hague System, there remains some need for education within the Chinese IP community. INTA has a strong focus on designs, and the need for international harmonization will become increasingly important as designs evolve as a means of brand protection in light of technological developments; for example, in the area of 3D printing.
IP Attaché Luncheon
INTA convened a group of IP attachés from the USPTO, OHIM, France, the UK, and the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO), as well as leaders from the European Chamber of Commerce and the American Chamber of Commerce to learn from and discuss the topics of importance to this group over an informal lunch.
INTA has been a strong supporter of government-to-government exchange on IP and has close relationships with IP attachés based in numerous countries. INTA also looks forward to partnering with larger business associations on trademark-focused topics.
On Wednesday, January 21, officials from NLGO, SAIC’s Consumer Protection Bureau, the Ministry of Public Safety, the SPC and the General Administration of Customs joined INTA members for a lively discussion on the issue of Online Counterfeiting.
Joining the industry panel were Davide Follador (IP Key, China), David Ho (Alibaba Group, Hong Kong), Shawn Yun (NBA Properties, China) and Jan Wei (SanDisk, China). All sides agreed that technological and commercial developments outpaced the law and that all stakeholders have been struggling to keep up. Further interaction—such as that facilitated by INTA at this meeting—between government, brand owners and online intermediaries is necessary to combat the problem.
INTA would like to thank George Chan (Simmons & Simmons, China) and He Jing (Anjie Law Firm, China) for moderating the two panels and the Anticounterfeiting China Subcommittee for organizing the seminar.
Chinese Companies Building Brands Abroad
INTA hosted a half-day seminar focused on Chinese brands expanding abroad. The event included speakers from both large and small enterprises in China, multinational corporations, association representatives from the Quality Brands Protection Committee (QBPC), CTA and experts from OHIM and WIPO who discussed international registration strategies and methods.
The seminar was so well attended that it was standing-room only and exceeded its allotted time, as participants continued to raise questions well over half an hour beyond schedule. Questions included practical topics such as “how can SMEs afford to protect their brands?” and—for one well-established brand—“what would you have done differently early on?”
INTA will continue to provide support to SMEs and established brands in China that seek information about international practice, as Chinese brands increasingly enter the ranks of the top valued brands in the world.
Non-Member Corporate Dinner
On Wednesday, January 21, INTA hosted a “New Year’s Dinner” for Chinese non-member enterprises to further educate them about the benefits of INTA membership. The event was organized through the MOFCOM Investment Promotion Bureau. These companies largely hailed from technology and state firms such as CETC International Co.,Ltd.; ZTE Corporation; China Siwei Surveying and Mapping Technology Co., Ltd.; Lvanchina Co., Ltd; and Information Technology Co.Ltd., Wuhai Branch. Mr. Evans remarked that the event was a great indication that INTA can serve the needs and interests of Chinese firms. The Association looks forward to working with many of those that attended in the future.
INTA would like to thank He Jing (Anjie Law Firm, China) for his kind organization of this event.
Pre-Annual Meeting Reception
Dozens of INTA members showed up for a Pre-Annual Meeting Reception in Beijing on Thursday, January 22. Mixing and mingling with INTA’s Leadership delegation, members were able to learn about changes to this year’s Annual Meeting in San Diego, including new and improved features, such as “Plan Your Own Event,” exclusive meeting rooms and the new premium hospitality area space.
Technology Conference Guest Speaker
Rounding out the Delegation, Mr. Evans addressed a technology conference on Friday, January 23. Firms came from across the spectrum of China’s IT space. INTA emphasized the importance of trademarks as a form of IP, noting that research conducted by the USPTO in 2012 and by the European Patent Office and OHIM in 2013 indicate that trademark-intensive industries contribute significantly to employment.
INTA greatly appreciates the efforts of Li Yongbo (Unitalen, China) and the organizers of the conference, Beijing Hand-shield IP Consulting, for the opportunity to address this group.
The Delegation helped to further deepen INTA’s longstanding relationships with SAIC, SPC, CTA and NLGO. Following a year of close interaction between the NLGO and INTA, the Association was able to start 2015 (and end the Chinese year) with a standing-room only seminar on online counterfeiting, bringing together the three main players—government, brand owners and intermediaries—under one roof to discuss the issue and explore solutions.
INTA looks forward to conducting another Presidential Leadership Delegation visit to China later this year and to making similar progress on the wide range of issues affecting brand owners inside and outside China.
If you represent an INTA trademark owner and would like to participate in future delegation visits, please contact INTA’s Chief China Representative, Seth Hays at email@example.com.
Although every effort has been made to verify the accuracy of items in the INTA Bulletin, readers are urged to check independently on matters of specific concern or interest.
© 2015 International Trademark Association