Hong Kong eyes opportunities as regional IP trading hub

Hong Kong's Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Gregory So recently outlined the future of Hong Kong's knowledge-based economy anchored on a strong IP protection scheme as a tool for strengthening enterprises and a government strategy that is keen on developing the territory as a regional IP trading hub.

So gave the keynote address at the International IP (Intellectual Property) Commercialization Conference recently. He said Hong Kong has a long history of engaging in different kinds of IP transactions and is well placed to develop into a regional marketplace providing professional services in licensing, franchising and IP registration.

"In particular, there is strong interest among Mainland enterprises in acquiring overseas IP, especially technology-related ones. By bringing Mainland investors and overseas owners together, Hong Kong intermediaries can help manage and add value in the trading process," he said.

Last November, China's State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) and the Intellectual Property Department of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (IPD) signed their first agreement to strengthen co-operation in the area of intellectual property.

The agreement calls for fostering exchange between the two places to promote innovation and economic growth, placing importance to intellectual property. The areas of cooperation include exchange of information on laws, publicity and education activities as well as automation services, as well as promoting the concepts and trends of the intellectual property trading and co-organizing exhibitions, seminars, technical exchanges and conferences.

So disclosed that a lot of IP trading has been taking place in Hong Kong. In fact, as a regional platform for technology trading, Hong Kong exported $8.6 billion in technology to Mainland China in 2010.

"That puts Hong Kong sixth in the world in taking technology to the Mainland. Hong Kong is also a forerunner in the trading of IP rights embedded in designs. The Trade Development council (TDC) produces such global fairs as Fashion Week, Inno Design Tech Expo, FILMART and the International Licensing Show. All of these have proven to be effective platforms for facilitating IP trading," he said.

TDC's online portal, he added, offers an excellent platform that connects IP sellers, buyers and intermediaries, while the IPD takes on the responsibility of helping Hong Kong enterprises better understand the value of IP trading.

Globally, Hong Kong has also been recognized for significant strides in the protection of IP rights. For one, the World Economic Forum's (WEF) "Global Competitiveness Report 2011-2012" ranked the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) 14th out of 142 economies in IP protection.

So added that Hong Kong was also the first economy in the region to receive the "Government Best Practices: Asia Pacific" award from Business Software Alliance (BSA) in 2008. The BSA's annual study on software piracy showed that piracy in Hong Kong has been steadily declining in the last five years, falling by eight percentage points from 53 percent in 2006 to 45 percent in 2010, while the Asia-Pacific average remains at a high 60 percent.

"To grasp the opportunities brought by the National 12th Five-Year Plan, we will continue to facilitate technology co-operation with the Mainland at various levels. With the implementation of the Overall Development Plan on Hong Kong/Shenzhen Co-operation on Modern Service Industries in Qianhai Area, we will make the best use of the existing mechanisms and channels to help Hong Kong companies capitalize on the business opportunities presented by the development of Qianhai to tap into the Mainland market," he stressed.