Foreign and Commonwealth Office
UK-China Cooperation on Intellectual Property
The UK aims to promote the non-discriminatory and transparent application of IP rules within national IP regimes.
This webpage is about intellectual property (IP) cooperation between the UK and China. For basic information on protecting and enforcing IP in China, please go to the publications section below.
If you are a British company and would like to discuss specific IP issues in China in more detail, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
The UK aims to build an efficient, respected international IP system. This includes promoting non-discriminatory and transparent application of IP rules within national IP regimes.
The UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) has cooperation relationships with a number of Chinese government agencies working on IP. The UKIPO and China’s State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) signed a cooperation agreement in 1996 covering patents and designs. The UKIPO signed a framework for cooperation on trade marks with China’s State Administration for Industry & Commerce (SAIC) in 2009, and has operated a formal programme for cooperation with the National Copyright Administration of China (NCAC) since 2010.
In addition, the UKIPO works with other UK Government partners and China’s State Council Information Office to hold regular UK-China Internet Forums. These events look specifically at issues which both China and the UK face in managing copyright on the internet, including peer-to-peer file sharing and live streaming of sporting events.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and UKIPO fund a number of cooperation projects on important IP topics in China. These include online IP infringement; copyright enforcement; protection of geographical indications; IP in technology transfer and collaborative research; and facilitating exchanges between IP judiciaries.
Since December 2011 the UKIPO has based an attaché in the British Embassy in Beijing, working with representatives from UKTI and the FCO. The position is central to the government’s plans to enhance trade relations and to support IP and innovation-led businesses abroad.
IP attachés provide a focal point in host countries for supporting UK businesses with IP related issues, promoting UK Government interests and working with local IP agencies. Attachés help to build relations with governments of host countries to understand and actively engage with IP policy makers. For more information on our IP cooperation with China please contact Conor Murray via email.
The British Embassy Beijing and the UKIPO provide a number of factsheets and newsletters on IP in China.
We publish an ad-hoc newsletter to inform UK stakeholders of recent developments in the Chinese IP environment. The content is collected from publically available sources, where information is often available in Chinese only. To be added to/removed from the distribution list or to receive past editions please contact Leo Zhuang.
China is a country of big numbers. The rise in applications for intellectual property (IP) rights in China in recent years has been a key part of the development of the global IP system. Chinese businesses are filing large volumes of patents, designs and trade marks at home and increasingly abroad. These IP rights are enforced vigorously through the courts and local government “administrative enforcement” systems in China. The statistics in our China IP in Numbers document are gathered from the relevant official government departments unless otherwise stated.
China’s intellectual property (IP) system has continued to function over the COVID-19 period. While some in-person contact is being avoided, solutions have been widely adopted including online and postal case filings and online trials. However, there are challenges that rights owners may now face as a result of travel restrictions, or not being able to meet administrative deadlines. The China Network Intellectual Property Team have put together a handy guide for UK businesses to protect their IP in China over the Covid-19 period. We hope you find it useful.
China offers significant opportunities for British life sciences companies, including access to a large market, world-leading research facilities, institutional and private Chinese investors, and partners with manufacturing, distribution and other supply chain expertise. But China also presents a number of regulatory and market access challenges, including how to protect intellectual property.
China offers opportunities for British software in a wide range of sectors. In order to fully benefit from these opportunities and maintain long-term competitiveness, it is important that British companies identify and mitigate intellectual property (IP) risk.
Copyright recordal is not mandatory in China. However, it is recommended that UK companies consider voluntary recordal of copyright. Recordal can help prove copyright ownership in infringement actions and other disputes, administrative procedures, and commercial negotiations.
Rising spending on education in China is creating opportunities for British companies offering a range of products and services. Managing intellectual property (IP) risks can help position UK businesses to meet the booming demand for international-standard academic, vocational and English-language education.
The UK-China Film & TV Toolkit is intended to help UK companies develop projects with Chinese partners. The Toolkit helps create a legal framework for the sharing of confidential ideas and intellectual property (IP) as part of the creative process.
This factsheet, developed with the UK Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys (CIPA) and the Institute of Trade Mark Attorneys (ITMA), supports Chinese companies establish and manage an international IP portfolio. The factsheet covers topics such as application strategies in the UK and Europe, IP risk analysis and mitigation, dispute resolution, and insights from the UK model of technology commercialisation.
China has a widespread and systemic problem with bad-faith trade mark applications. Bad-faith applicants in China target both domestic and international brands, seeking to extract payment to transfer marks (“trade mark squatting”) or to piggy-back on the reputation of established brands. The issue of Bad-faith trade mark applications is the single most common business irritant reported to the British Embassy in Beijing, affecting hundreds of marks each year across all industry sectors.
China and Southeast Asia are fast growing markets that are increasingly important for British companies. As bilateral trade and investment increases, the FCO and the UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO) commissioned a report into anti-counterfeiting in the region. The report analyses the key trade routes for counterfeits and recommends a series of actions to address the problem.
China is an important manufacturing location for products featuring British design, including by original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) producing goods for global export. The fast-growing Chinese economy is also creating new demand for British-designed products. Whether taking advantage of manufacturing expertise or selling to the Chinese consumer, British designers and design-intensive companies should ensure they have considered the intellectual property (IP) risks presented by China. This factsheet is presented together with the Anti-Copying in Design (ACID) business association.
The fast-growing Chinese economy – including rapid urbanisation – offers opportunities for British architectural design expertise. But the Chinese architecture industry also features several sources of intellectual property (IP) risk. Identifying and mitigating these risks can be an important element of succeeding in the Chinese market.
Increasing UK-China film cooperation is offering British films access to revenue streams in the Chinese market through a variety of business models. The Chinese intellectual property (IP) system has developed rapidly over the past 30 years. But a number of differences remain between international norms and the structures of the Chinese film industry and IP system. It is important for British companies to be aware of these differences and to prepare accordingly.
As British companies pursue commercial opportunities in China it is important to identify and mitigate risks. Trade secrets are often crucial elements of the competitive advantage of innovative companies. Protecting trade secrets – and taking action should leaks occur –can present particular challenges in China.
UK-China trade and investment is expanding rapidly. As British companies pursue commercial opportunities in China it is important to identify and mitigate risks, including around intellectual property (IP). It is possible to protect and enforce IP in China. However, challenges remain and elements of China’s IP system are different to the IP system in the UK and other countries.
Owners of a well-known trade mark (驰名商标) can enjoy multi-class (or multi sub-class) protection in the Chinese trade mark system. This factsheet focuses on the two main channels for rights owners to achieve well-known trade mark status: a decision during an opposition or cancellation procedure and a decision by the courts during a judicial review of these administrative decisions.
There are four main routes for enforcing copyright in China: administrative enforcement; civil litigation; criminal enforcement; and customs enforcement. This factsheet focuses on the administrative enforcement channel. Administrative enforcement is conducted by an administrative government department as opposed to a law enforcement agency or court. It is available for many (but not all) types of copyright infringement.
Technology transfer is a general term used to describe the commercialisation of research and knowledge generated from the research base. The IP considerations in any particular technology transfer deal will depend on the route selected to commercialise a new opportunity. This factsheet examines IP-related factors in UK-China technology transfer.
For further information on protecting and enforcing IP in China, please visit the China country guide on the UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) website.
For feedback or questions about this webpage and other UK government support on IP in China, contact Conor Murray
- Factsheet on well-known trademarks in China
- Factsheet on Trade Secrets in China
- Factsheet on Intellectual Property best practice in UK-China technology transfer
- Factsheet on Intellectual Property and Life Sciences in China
- Factsheet to support Chinese companies with overseas IP protection and technology commercialisation (Chinese-language)
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