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IP Agreement Brings 'Two Systems' Closer


  Complementary economies united through cooperative framework as authorities turn eyes toward new ways to seize opportunities.

  The State Intellectual Property Office and the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau of Hong Kong signed the Cooperation Arrangement in the Area of Intellectual Property recently, with the aim of strengthening IP exchanges and cooperation between the mainland and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

  Gregory So, secretary of the CEDB, said SIPO has been providing Hong Kong with "staunch support and technical assistance in our work on intellectual property".

  "The cooperation arrangement reaffirms the critical role IP has played in promoting innovation and economic growth nowadays," he said. "It also provides an important basis for both sides to strengthen future exchanges and cooperation. I look forward to joint efforts by Hong Kong and the mainland to explore, develop and embrace new opportunities in the area of intellectual property for mutual benefits."

  Areas covered by the arrangement include the exchange of information on IP laws and protection, publicity and training programs, promotion of IP trading, organizing related exhibitions and seminars and optimizing the patent system.

  "In the era of the knowledge economy, innovation is the engine for economic growth," So said. "The government spares no effort in promoting scientific innovation, creative industries and entrepreneurship. The IP rights system is an important part of the cause as it rewards creativity and encourages innovation."

  The mainland and Hong Kong IP authorities have launched a series of exchanges and cooperative measures on laws and regulation, training and patent management since the two parties signed their first cooperation agreement in November 2011.

  "We believe that public education is crucial to IP protection," said Ada Leung, head of Hong Kong's Intellectual Property Department. "We will continue to organize various training and promotion programs to win support from the public, especially the younger generations."

  The recently signed arrangement is expected to better satisfy the growing needs of innovators in both the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong, according to SIPO.

  Over the past 20 years since its return to the motherland, Hong Kong has grown into one of Asia's leading international IP trading centers, with a rapidly rising volume of IP services for import and export. In 2013, such service trade volume reached HK$20.2 billion ($2.6 billion), according to the Hong Kong government's 2016 policy addresses.

  In 1997, residents from Hong Kong filed 802 patent applications with SIPO. The number increased to 3,242 in 2013. The number of granted patents increased from 726 to 2,867 over the same period.

  The Asia IP Exchange, a free online IP trading platform and database developed and managed by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, has formed alliances with more than 30 strategic partners from around the world, and features over 25,000 tradable IP listings, covering areas including biotechnology, textiles, medicine, electronics, publication and nanotechnology.

  "There is huge need for IP in Asia and worldwide, and the continuous shift of the IP market to the Chinese mainland means great opportunities for Hong Kong," said former chief executive Leung Chun-ying.

  "Hong Kong should, on the one hand, strengthen its innovation capacity and develop the creative industries to ensure its future leading position in the global economy. On the other hand, it should take advantage of the 'one country, two systems' to become a bridge linking the IP markets in the mainland, Asia and the world," he said.

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