HK-Mexico sign progressive IP agreement

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Hong Kong Intellectual Property Department signed a MoU with the Mexican Institute of Industrial Property on intellectual property.

There has been much talk about Hong Kong becoming a hub for intellectual property trading in recent years, but the latest Policy Address has been modest in disclosing any Government’s plans to further the agenda. However, progress was made today when the Hong Kong Intellectual Property Department (IPD) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on intellectual property with its counterpart from Mexico.

“This MoU provides a suitable framework to enhance the cooperation between both institutions in terms of exchange of best practices and technical information, training for business communities, promotion of IP trading and commercialisation, and organisation of training programmes, seminars and events,” says Ambassador Alicia Buenrostro Massieu, Consul General of Mexico in Hong Kong, at the signing ceremony.

The IP industry in Mexico is booming. Last year, the applications of patents and trademarks hit a record high. “2 out of 3 patents granted in Latin America were granted in Mexico,” says the Director General of the Mexican Institute of Industrial Property Miguel Ángel Margáin.

New phase for the IP industry

The MoU took the IPD and the Mexican Institute of Industrial Property over a year to prepare. While it shows closer ties between Hong Kong and Mexico, it also signified a major development in the IP industry.

Traditional minds may see IP to be about registration, protection and enforcement but Mr Margáin took pains to explain the IP industry worldwide is entering into a new era. “We cannot stay on the protection and registration stage of IP – we have to exploit them and commercialise them.” Hong Kong has its edge as a hub for IP commercialisation, which has brought itself a new partner across the Pacific Ocean, but the city is a slow global player.

Mexico is the first in Latin America to sign the Patent Cooperation Treaty and the third to sign the Madrid Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Marks, dubbed the Madrid Protocol.

Implemented in 1989, the Madrid Protocol seeks to facilitate the registration and management of trademarks in different jurisdictions and so far has 91 signatories on the list, including China. In Hong Kong, a public consultation is due next Wednesday (February 11th) to decide whether Hong Kong should sign the Protocol.

IPD chief: HK has many strengths

Already, China tops the world in patent applications and there have been questions if Hong Kong’s IP trading and commercialisation will be another area that will come under threat from cities such as Shanghai and Shenzhen, which are both closing the gap on Hong Kong.

However, Director of IPD Ada Leung is confident Hong Kong will stay ahead of the game. She believes the established professional services in the legal, financial and accounting sectors will remain the strengths of Hong Kong in shaping the IP market. She also mentions the dispute resolution and arbitration that the Government has been focusing on in recent years and will become a new competitive edge for Hong Kong.

Ms Leung also revealed a survey result will be disclosed in mid year which will identify the economic contribution IP trading has brought to Hong Kong and the list of intensive IP trading activities in town.

Regarding the high profile exchanges between China and Latin America in recent years which have seen billions of trade agreements signed between the two, this MoU with Mexico shows the Hong Kong Government is stepping up the effort to tap into the Latin America market.