Mapping a Modern IP Approach

The risks from intellectual property are "increasingly challenging to operation of Chinese companies", said Li Lei, general manager of the Zhongguancun consultancy firm IPTalent. "And for some of them, intellectual property risks are all risks they face."

Unlike many leading Western companies whose intellectual property systems are well established after a century of development, most Chinese companies have only had a growing sense of intellectual property in recent years.

IPTalent is an expert in intellectual property, but instead of traditional services such as technology transfer, and patent acquisitions, licensing and prosecution it focuses more on how to "use intellectual property as a market means to defeat rivals".

By analyzing statistics and carrying out thorough studies, the firm helps its clients make and optimize their intellectual property strategies, then integrate them in overall management. It has developed software to do part of the jobs.

Li said that IPTalent's employees are not only specialists in intellectual property, but also experienced in other businesses such as high-tech R&D so the firm provides tailor-made services according to different stages of development and varied businesses.

In addition, it offers a package of solutions. Some clients are large companies in traditional industries, which need to improve the intellectual property management systems. Others are high-tech companies that mostly need planning services.

"Even before they start developing a new product, we introduce intellectual property services such as patent searches," Li explained. "The information we find helps them adjust the direction of their R&D and avoid risks.

"We help them engineer a detour round the patent protection range of their competitors, and sometimes our specialists take part in their R&D directly."

The general manager also noted that authorities in Zhongguancun lead the nation in intellectual property work as "they started to pay attention to patent quality and operations, while most local governments still focus on the number of patents".

When the Zhongguancun's administration maps out an intellectual property strategy, it seeks advice from courts, scholars, financial experts, companies and agencies, so the companies are integrated in the overall development plan and benefit from the plan.

Although there are a few leading companies in Zhongguancun that "have done a great job in intellectual property work", Li said some "still have not found a clear clue and need to shift their concepts".

"In the future, the intangible assets in a company should exceed the tangible assets, and intellectual property will take a great proportion in the intangible assets," said Li.

Intellectual property service providers must always be one step ahead of their clients in concepts, he noted.

(Source: China Daily)