Chinese businesses eyeing up trade with New Zealand are being offered a springboard to success: a Mandarin-speaking intellectual property expert with foremost New Zealand intellectual property firm, James and Wells.
Hamilton-based Johnathan Chen, a former engineer turned IP1 specialist, already files local and international patents on behalf of clients in China and has a wealth of knowledge and expertise in the area. He is just as conversant with meeting the needs of Chinese interests looking to register their intellectual property2 rights in New Zealand.
"We have found there has been a surge in interest in Chinese companies looking to own their rights in New Zealand as a result of the Madrid Protocol," says Johnathan. "We are completely prepared to meet their needs and ensure they have the best tools with which to do business this side of the Pacific."
The Madrid Protocol, which New Zealand signed up to in December 2012, allows local businesses a more cost effective route to securing trademark protection in overseas markets, while also allowing foreign companies more ease in securing the same protection in the New Zealand market.
Membership of the Protocol makes the case for good IP advice even stronger, says Johnathan. "Both Chinese and New Zealand businesses need to understand the requirements in each market and plan accordingly," he says.
"Attention to both your home market and your target market – with the help of experts – is absolutely critical to success."
James and Wells has just had Chinese language ( www.jamesandwells.cn) and international ( www.jamesandwells.com) versions of its website go live as part of its suite of helpful tools for both local and international opportunity-seekers. These sites can also be accessed easily from the www.jaws.co.nz portal.
While opportunities for New Zealand businesses in China have never been better, businesses that question the value of obtaining IP rights in China based on old prejudices need to think again, says partner Ceri Wells.
"China's economy is rapidly moving towards being innovation-based, and, alongside that, a new move to patenting good new technology and services is becoming the norm there," says Ceri.
"In fact, the rate at which local businesses there are patenting technology is far outstripping the rest of the world. The sheer size of the country means that there will still be rogue operators that rip-off IP, just like in any other market, but overall we have found the importance of IP is rapidly being appreciated and normalised."
He warns New Zealand companies will find it difficult to license and manufacture a product without some IP rights – and certainly will be inviting knock-offs without having them. The fact that the Chinese themselves are embracing IP rights means both local and foreign companies doing business in China can more easily identify, capture, protect and exploit new ideas and innovative products and services.
"It doesn't make sense to ignore this market, and as long as you have your 'ducks in a row', doing business there can be enormously rewarding," says Ceri. "Certainly, helping businesses ensure they obtain strong, enforceable rights in China is a large part of our business - and we can only see that getting bigger."
1Refers to the ownership of an intangible thing - the innovative idea behind a new technology, product, process, design or plant variety, and other intangibles such as trade secrets, goodwill and reputation, and trade marks. Although intangible, the law recognises intellectual property as a form of property which can be sold, licensed, damaged or trespassed upon. Intellectual property encompasses patents, designs, trade marks and copyright.
2Refers to the ownership of an intangible thing - the innovative idea behind a new technology, product, process, design or plant variety, and other intangibles such as trade secrets, goodwill and reputation, and trade marks. Although intangible, the law recognises intellectual property as a form of property which can be sold, licensed, damaged or trespassed upon. Intellectual property encompasses patents, designs, trade marks and copyright.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.
James & Wells Intellectual Property, three time winner of the New Zealand Intellectual Property Laws Award and first IP firm in the world to achieve CEMARS® certification.