Last month we had the honour of presenting at the 3rd China International Technology Fair – UNIDO Day and Technology Trade International Forum in Shanghai after a very kind invitation was extended at IPBC Asia in December 2014. We were invited to speak on the topics of “on-boarding innovations” and “working with foreign IP regimes” for companies looking to expand globally. Before the event, we had the opportunity to visit with some of the leading high-growth technology companies who provided us with some perspective on how China is improving their overall focus on IP, and viewing opportunities outside of China. Both our visits and our experience at the event made us come away with a very positive view of China’s broader IP strategy goals and the steps the Government and companies are taking to compete on a global scale.
While in China, we visited companies in the cities of Shenzhen, Hangzhou and Shanghai. During these site visits, we saw first-hand the significant level of investment in technology development and innovation, the new economy being developed very rapidly and the IP departments staffing up to meet the challenge to protect their innovation in consumer electronics, telecommunications, internet technology and social media. What I learned in these meetings was that China is heavily focused on investment-led growth (which is very in line with their “One Belt, One Road” vision) and to sustain that, they’ve realized the need to better enforce IP laws to promote internal innovation, which will support ongoing, valuable foreign investment. They have also realised that understanding IP regimes in other global jurisdictions is critical to their success in expanding outside of the domestic market.
Based on these observations, I chose to tailor my UNIDO presentation to focus on best practices and ways to avoid risk when engaging with foreign companies and markets. I covered product & technology development, licensing strategies, IP risk management, and IP portfolio building in regards to building a stronger global footprint. One of the key themes I suggested was the need to acquire innovation outright, and where appropriate, accelerate the strength and scale of Chinese companies’ international patent portfolios through acquisition.
The road ahead for the new wave of innovation in China will no doubt be successful and long lived given the investment, commitment and energy and awareness companies are applying. However, in the short to medium term there are likely to be a number of challenges to overcome in the IP dimension to continue this upward momentum and push into new international markets.