tvwithflag.jpgMore about piracy. But this time its Chinese companies that are concerned about protecting their brands. Chinese exports to the world market totaled $94bn just in the last month, making the need for intellectual property rights one of the largest challenges facing Chinese manufacturers.

So argues, not disinterestedly, US law firm Sughrue Mion which recently co-sponsored an international trademark forum in Beijing designed to raise awareness of IPR issues among Chinese exporters seeking to protect their brands overseas.

The goal of the event was to help Chinese brand owners build stronger brands, and to learn how to register trademarks and resolve IPR disputes in foreign jurisdictions.

Kevin Smith, a partner with Sughrue Mion, said:

It is important that Chinese brand owners — from large computer manufacturers and food exporters to smaller companies with a single trademark — know how to protect their intellectual property rights in overseas markets and how to build a globally recognisable and durable brand.”

The event attracted over 180 attendees including representatives from brand-name manufacturers like Lenovo, Bosun Tools Group and Konka Group. The latter is China's leading domestic TV supplier but it now placing a lot more emphasis on branding and export markets in a bid to differentiate itself from the hundreds of no-name domestic manufacturers that crowd the market.

The China Trademark Association (CTA) recently set up an alliance with these and other companies to protect Chinese trademarks overseas. It aims to help Chinese companies locate agents for their foreign registration and overseas trademark disputes.

In many cases, Chinese local companies find it hard to hire a good foreign agency to represent their trademarks abroad because of the language and cost issues, the CTA says.

Elsewhere on the IPR front:

  • IPR infringement in e-commerce is “still rampant” , says one Shanghai lawyer in this China Knowledge@Wharton article, which looks at the growing popularity of consumer-to-consumer e-commerce sites like TaoBao and e-Bay China. Last year, Nike sued an online store on e-Bay China for trying to pass off fake Nike shoes as the real thing, while a Danish fashion brand found as many as 73 unauthorised stores on e-Bay China selling its products cheap. The latter lost its case against e-Bay China, which argued that it was unable to control what happened on its site.

  • Intel has settled a long-running dispute with Dongjin Technologies in which the US chip giant claimed the Chinese company had infringed its IPRs on software used in a computer-telephony integration (CTI) card. The CTI market is pretty mature — Intel spun off much of this business into Dialogic — and analysts say Intel reached a settlement rather than face the continuing distraction of a relatively trivial lawsuit.

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