Intellectual Property Office
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New UK-China Intellectual Property deals to help business exploit new ideas

New UK-China Intellectual Property deals to help business exploit new ideas

INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY OFFICE News Release (02/02/09) issued by COI News Distribution Service. 2 February 2009

The UK and China have signed two ground-breaking Intellectual Property agreements as part of today's summit meeting between the two countries. The agreements which cover patents and trade marks aim to encourage and make it easier for UK and Chinese business to develop products and services from new ideas and innovation.

Chinese companies now file four times more patents than five years ago. By 2012 China is forecast to become the largest patenting nation in the world. However the global patent system faces a growing crisis with huge backlogs of unprocessed applications and delays. In some countries it can take over 10 years to get a patent. Much of this backlog is due to duplicate processing of similar patent applications in different states.

The patents agreement, signed in the presence of Prime Ministers Wen and Brown, will:

* Tackle the problem of backlogs by reducing duplication and delays in the processing of patent applications by enabling UK and Chinese examiners to make better use of each others' work; and

* Promote and encourage the use and understanding of our respective Intellectual Property systems by Chinese and UK businesses.

The trade marks agreement is the first of its kind between China and the UK. It promotes cooperation between the Intellectual Property Office and the China Trade Mark Office, including the exchange of best practice and training.

Minister of State for Intellectual Property David Lammy said:

"In the current challenging global economic climate, it is those countries that invest in innovation that will be at the forefront of the economic recovery. The agreements announced today will help to make it quicker and easier for businesses in our two countries to better protect and exploit their ideas. They will improve the global IP system to make it effective, efficient and accessible to all innovative companies."

Commissioner Tian Lipu said:

"The agreement on patents is a step towards making the system more efficient for both UK and Chinese business by reducing duplication and delays."

Ian Fletcher, Chief Executive of the Intellectual Property Office, said:

"These agreements are very important to both UK and Chinese business. By reducing duplication and delays in patents we will assist in translating each other's innovation and creativity into economic growth and social benefit. The agreements will also promote greater awareness to business of how Intellectual Property works."

China is a key market for the UK - we are China's largest EU investor. In 2008 China/UK trade was worth over £25 billion. To be successful, it is vital UK companies understand the importance of protecting and exploiting their ideas in such a key market.

These new agreements will be followed up with a series of staff exchanges and joint UK/China outreach events to business over the coming year.


Notes to Editors

* The Intellectual Property Office is within the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills and responsible for the national framework of Intellectual Property rights, comprising patents, designs, trade marks and copyright.

Its role is to help manage an IP system that encourages innovation and creativity, balances the needs of consumers and users, promotes strong and competitive markets and is the foundation of the knowledge based economy.

It operates in a national and an international environment and its work is governed by national and international law, including various international treaties relating to IP to which the United Kingdom is a party.

* Intellectual Property plays a central role in translating innovation and creativity into economic growth and social benefit.

* Innovative companies which continue to invest in the development of new products and services will have a head start over their competitors when the economy recovers.

* In the current climate, it is more important than ever to ensure Chinese and UK businesses are aware of how to protect and exploit their ideas.

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