2017 has been a successful year for ‘Brand China’, and UK bodies are looking to capitalise on this for the benefit of local SMEs. More and more of our clients are looking to do business in the East, and some rather timely collaborative steps have been taken to make this business an awful lot easier, particularly when it comes to controlling their intellectual property.
China Ranks No2 In Brand Finance Nation Brands Study
China’s global reputation, and importance as the world’s largest consumer base (by purchasing power) has been enhanced this year.
The Nation Brands study measures the strength of a nation’s brand using performance data from a number of different sectors, focusing on goods & services, investment, and society. This is then analysed using a royalty relief mechanism – a common way to measure the value of companies. Full details of the methodology and of the report can be found here.
China’s brand leaped in value by $3100bn over the past 12 months. This places it second in the pantheon of the world’s most valuable nation brands. Only the USA beats it. However, the US saw only 2% growth in its brand value in 2017 and China grew by a whopping 44%. A sign of things to come perhaps, as China’s economy continues to diversify and, in the words of Brand Finance’s CEO, “the leaders of the United States and Europe pursuing inward-looking agendas”.
CBBC, Alibaba Strategic Agreement
Against this background of growth, the China Britain Business Council – of which Gregg Latchams is an active member – has concluded a mission to China and reached a Strategic Agreement with Alibaba. In their press release, the CBBC say that the new agreement will:
“Support brands in areas such as notice-and-takedown mechanisms, pre-emptive measures to stop infringing content and criminal enforcement cooperation offline. It builds on more than three years of cooperation between CBBC and Alibaba’s IP protection teams.”
At the time of writing, a copy of this agreement was not available. However, from experience, GL consider that anything that can be done to simplify the take down procedure using the AliProtect procedure, and to enable brand owners to take pre-emptive action, has to be seen as a massive plus.
As it stands, the procedure is more formal than its equivalents on eBay (VeRO) and Amazon, and counterfeit takedowns are not always guaranteed. We would hope that the Strategic Agreement will benefit smaller companies trading on this platform too, not just the larger organisations in attendance at the signing ceremony which included Shell, BP, and Dyson. At the moment, the only information we have is that the process has been “developed” for smaller companies.
UKIPO/China Model Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA)
This NDA is intended to support collaboration between UK and Chinese enterprises on R&D and other IP-heavy projects. For an agreement aimed at businesses operating in either the UK or China, it is interesting to note that it was in fact put together by an attorney based in a US law firm. Tim Moss, the CEO of the UK Intellectual Property Office says:
“The new template Non-Disclosure Agreement will help British and Chinese partners develop joint research bids or a technology licensing deal. Drafted in English and Chinese, they allow equal protection to all parties, whether from the UK or China, and provides legal certainty so partners can engage with confidence.”
Of course, a boilerplate NDA will only be useful in a handful of situations, where a bespoke agreement is likely to strongly favour one party over another. It is likely to be a useful baseline document, but the major sticking points such as jurisdiction, governing law (UK companies will want breaches to be assessed by UK courts), and language priority will remain.
GL represents both incoming Chinese clients and outgoing UK clients, through the Gregg Latchams team and our sister company, Rui Cheng. Our team would be happy to speak to you about your plans in English or Mandarin. We can help you with everything from incorporation and branding, to supply chain and commercial agreements. If you are thinking about doing business in or with China, please feel free to get in touch