Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Stellenbosch IP Conference: Part 3

Mr Chen
Part 3. For the first part click here and the second here

A smile and sense of humour are incredibly disarming. Mr Chen entertained as he explained that the Chinese copy (hence they are prolific producers of counterfeit goods) because it is part of their culture of knowledge creation through sharing.  Philosophically, this aspect of their culture is diametrically opposite to the idea of exclusivity created by intellectual property laws. Understanding this is important in dealing with the problem.

Some of the audience mooted that China was in a transformation stage and would eventually become big supporters of IPRs as their knowledge based economy grew (like South Korea). Campinos (OHIM) was quick to point out though that China was beyond the transformation stage and that its influence and power was already far greater than most thought. He felt the change may come as the country moves to an "import model".

Some take home tips from Mr Chen’s talk:

1.      spend your budget on filing in China – “as far and as wide as possible”;
2.      the “famous mark” recognition procedure in China is “disappointing”;
3.      translations and transliterations should be registered but seek advice; and
4.      lobby government if your company is investing in China to aide your rights protection program but remember China is “huge”.

The afternoon started with a thorough analysis of the overlapping mechanisms for protecting “icons” ie expensive handbags in Europe and if Afro Leo is able to obtain a copy of Helen Newman’s (Olswang) slides he will share with them with you. She also discussed the current UK debate on “initial interest confusion” – something that was considered in RSA in an article by Momberg & Els - see Afro-IP post here and general analysis on IPKat here.

Fred Mostert was then back at the podium with Mr J Monahan (who worked/s at eBay) discussing the possibility of take down notices for trade marks (ie in addition to copyright). The two had obviously worked very closely together implementing the take down procedure for copyright infringements in the USA. South Africa, of course, already has its own take down procedure for trade marks which is very effective – perhaps too effective? However, an interesting insight into how big brands are forming relationships with companies like eBay (as opposed to suing them) to assist them fight against counterfeiting.

Day 2 was just a morning but a cracker: Harms, Ginsburg, Bereskin and the fresh face of SAIIPL - stay tuned for the final part 4.

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