One of the biggest challenges for European small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs) is preserving their intellectual property. i.e. their products, their brand or their customers.
To better understand this euronews has looked at the experience of some German enterprises in Suzhou, near Shanghai, which have learned the process the hard way.”
Lauterbach is the world leader in debugging tools for the design and manufacture of mobile phones. In 2008, three years after their arrival in China, its leaders realised their flagship product, as well as their website, and even their business cards had been copied and sold by someone else on the Chinese market
With the help of a lawyer, the company managed to stop the copies, but they soon returned. Tom Meyer, the company’s General Manager in China, was not discouraged though and participated in a seminar organised by the China IPR SME Helpdesk, which helped him to understand what he should do.”
“We started registering our logo, our name, the copyright for the hardware, and the copyright for the software,” he said.
Tom finally managed to get rid of around 95 percent of the copies. And now works profitably and with peace of mind.
“We probably invested the equivalent of 3,500 US dollars (2,700 euros) and our return on investment, I would say, was increase of revenue by 20 or 25 percent.”
For more on the protection on Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) in China, we look to the European Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai. The China IPR SME Helpdesk is a project set up by the European Commission.
It aims to provide advice and information about intellectual property rights for European SMEs who settle in China.
All services are free and available in six European languages plus Chinese. There is no technical or legal jargon, just simple and useful information. Each year, the organisation advises around 500 SMEs directly and gives information to some 3,000 more.
Naomi Saunders, the Project Manager for the Helpdesk said:
“European SMEs really need to apply for their trademarks in China even before they arrive on the ground here, in order to protect (themselves). Basically, if you don’t register it, somebody else will.”
In China it’s the first to register a trademark has the right to it, a trademark registered in Europe is not protected in China. It is therefore necessary to re-register on site.
“For example, the administrative fee to register a trademark here in China is around about 100 euros depending on the trademarks, so it is not too expensive,” Naomi added.
Tom Meyer of Lauterbach ends the piece with some very wise words: “To me, the key to success is registrations – rather more than too few. Registrations here in China are relatively inexpensive and easy to achieve.”