Intellectual Property

Whether you are sourcing from China, manufacturing in China, or selling into the Chinese market, you need to be aware of the risk that your intellectual property can be stolen. Horror stories abound. We sometimes think of China as completely lawless and irresponsible in this regard, when in reality they are simply at a stage that parallels our history about 100 years ago, at which time the US showed as much disdain for intellectual property rights. Since the Chinese are not breaking new ground in this regard, we can learn from our past and understand that respect for intellectual property rights will grow, and in fact is now growing albeit slowly, and at the same time be very aware of current risk and be careful to manage it.

Risk management will involve knowledge of the culture, and of the fact that employees’ loyalties may not lie where we think they do, thus care in splitting responsibility and knowledge so that no one group has all the pieces to the puzzle, and also caution in utilizing certain business vehicles such as joint ventures. It will involve strategic planning that allows various components to be manufactured in different facilities with final assembly in still another one, or in a different country altogether, and diligence with respect to patent filings so that we are assured that filing patents internationally, particularly in China, will in fact help rather than hurt our rights.

Other steps will involve investigation of potential business partners, and the use of the proper employment agreements with the right confidentiality provisions. Additionally, the Chinese market will need to be monitored for evidence of trademark or patent infringement.

It will be important in some cases to explore the Intellectual Property insurance market to see if such coverage will make sense for our situation.

We will conduct and/or oversee and control all of the above processes, and more, as appropriate to your circumstance.

“A company should think like an intelligence organization, sharing technology and know-how only to the extent necessary.”

Oded Shenkar, author of
The Chinese Century