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Deacons celebrates fifth anniversary of Intellectual Property Office in Beijing

Deacons, Hong Kong’s premier full service independent law firm, marked the fifth year anniversary of its Intellectual Property Office in Beijing by hosting a cocktail event for approximately 70 distinguished guests from the Beijing business community and from government. At the event, Deacons expressed its commitment to growth in China to meet the excellent opportunities arising from China’s improving intellectual property protection regime and greater enforcement efforts.

Deacons (Beijing) Intellectual Property Agency was founded in September 2013. It provides trademark searches, applications, registration, opposition, and declarations of invalidity; copyright matters, customs-related IP rights cases, and other issues connected with IP enforcement and protection, to both Chinese and international clients.  Deacons’ IP team, which is ranked as Band 1 by Chambers China, has one of the largest specialist IP teams in Greater China, with 125 staff in total, of which 46 are qualified lawyers and professional staff members. The firm works with more than half of the world’s 100 best known and most valuable brands (as measured by Interbrand).

After entering China in 1986, Deacons was the first foreign law firm to secure three licensed offices in the country. Today its Greater China team consists of 243 lawyers. In addition to its headquarters in Hong Kong, the firm has three representative offices in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, and an Intellectual Property Agency office in Beijing.

Commenting on the anniversary, Annie Tsoi, Co-Head of Deacons’ Intellectual Property Department and Head of China IP Practice Group, said: “We are proud of the success that our IP Agency has achieved in the past five years, and we are committed to growing the team in the coming months and years as China continues its incredible transformation as a world economic power.”

China has significantly enhanced its Intellectual Property regime, mostly notably, establishing three specialised IP Courts in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou and 15 specialised IP Tribunals across 10 provinces and two cities or municipalities in China since 2014. In addition, a decision has been made to create an Intellectual Property Court within the Supreme People’s Court (SPC) to serve as a national IP appellate court. Alongside legislative change, the country has seen greater enforcement, with patent enforcement cases and patent disputes rising to 66,649 and 28,157 in 2017[1], increases of 36% and 35% respectively on the preceding year.

In parallel, the Chinese Government has adopted a consistent approach to supporting local companies, particularly in the technology sector, to expand outside of China. Trademark and patent applications from Chinese companies overseas have increased dramatically since 2014, and at a much faster pace than any other country, including an eightfold surge in trademark applications to 50,000 in the United States from Chinese companies, as of 2017. Among the top 15 origins of PCT applications, China is the only country to have recorded double-digit annual growth of 13.4%.  According to the World Intellectual Property Organization[2], it is estimated that China will overtake the U.S. within three years as the largest source of applications filed under the World Intellectual Property Organization’s Patent Cooperation Treaty.

Looking ahead to 2019, Annie Tsoi observed: “China is fast becoming a major competitor on the global stage of high-value manufacturing, and aligned with this, significant progress has been made by the Central Government to foster stronger IP protection as innovation sweeps the country and Chinese firms and brands expand internationally. 

The introduction of the new e-commerce law which comes into effect on the 1st January 2019, the clampdown on trademark squatters, the recent opening of an internet court in Beijing, last month’s launch of the Shanghai Trademark Overseas Protection Office, and the Government’s continued support for local technology companies to expand outside of China, underscore the complex and rapid change that is underway. It is imperative that companies both large and small are fully cognisant of how these changes might affect them and they must ensure that they are taking adequate measures now to comply and to protect themselves.”

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