INTA Bulletin

July 15, 2017 Vol. 72 No. 12 Back to Bulletin Main Page

Trademarks and the One Belt One Road

INTA’s China Office is looking forward to participating in the China Trademark Association’s Trademark Festival in Guilin, China, September 1‒4. As part of the program, INTA will be organizing a panel session on trademark protection along the global infrastructure and investment area known as the One Belt One Road (OBOR), spanning the Eurasian continent, Africa, and Southeast Asia.

What Is OBOR?

OBOR is the massive infrastructure and trade strategy led by China spanning the regions covered by the old Silk Road land routes (Land Belt) and the ancient maritime trade routes (Maritime Road) through Southeast Asia, South Asia and Africa, and Europe. Some estimates put the potential investment figures at 12 times the Marshall Plan that rebuilt Europe at the end of World War II. OBOR could reach 64 countries, 4.4 billion people, and around 40 percent of the global economy.

With investment comes trade—including trademark registrations—and, unfortunately, also the trade in counterfeit goods. A recent study released by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and EUIPO, “Mapping the Real Routes in Trade in Counterfeit Goods,” points to many areas of production and transshipment of counterfeit goods. A close look at the routes clearly shows overlap with the OBOR area, raising the priority of IP protection in this area. This is a priority that brand owners need to address.


On July 21, WIPO Director General Francis Gurry and China’s State Councilor Wang Yong opened a two-day, high-level conference on IP for countries in the OBOR area in Beijing. The conference encouraged closer cooperation between these countries on IP and the promotion of greater innovation through IP development. Nearly 300 participants from 60 countries participated in the program.

However, the conference topic was not simply limited to discussions on the production of IP. “We need to step up the protection of IP. Without protection, there is no incentive to engage in innovation,” Mr. Wang emphasized. INTA is embracing State Councilor Wang’s sentiment by organizing a panel session at the China Trademark Association (CTA) Festival in September dedicated to cross-border trademark enforcement from selected countries in the region.

INTA has been leading the discussion on the importance of trademarks and brands in the OBOR project from the very beginning. In 2015, INTA organized an education panel session at the CTA Festival, concentrating on trademark registration issues and differences in Central Asia, Middle East, South Asia, and Southeast Asia. INTA China Global Advisory Council Co-Chair, He Jing (Anjie Law Firm, China) noted: “INTA member firms in the Belt and Road economies may play a fundamental role in building stronger ties among investors and companies. Ultimately, effective communication and workable advice are essential to the success of business, benefiting cross border consumers, enterprises, and public agendas.”

The Association looks forward to engaging the trademark community in China and the OBOR area, fostering investment in brands as a means of economic development, and building strong ties between industry and government for the protection of trademarks against dangerous counterfeit goods.

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.

© 2017 International Trademark Association