How to Protect Your IP in, and From, China

How to Protect Your IP in, and From, China

The Makers of Barcelona heard from Dan Harris, one of the founders of Harris Bricken, a law firm with locations all over the world, representing European and American companies overseas, and foreign companies in the United States.

Harris himself focuses primarily on international law and foreign businesses in overseas operations. He certainly knows his stuff, as he's a co-author on the award-winning law blog, China Law Blog, and he contributes to such household names as Forbes, CNN, Fox and The Wall Street Journal.

Key Takeaways

1) Good Partnerships are Crucial to Protecting Your IP

It's important for companies to choose a good partner to help protect their identity and IP. If you choose a legitimate Chinese company to partner with, the odds of you losing your IP goes down. It's only when you partner with people you should have never been doing business with in the first place that you find yourself losing your IP and other vital information. It's often someone you know that steals your IP anyway, such as a vendor or employee.

2) Registering a Design Patent is Key

Particularly in the IoT and hardware space, designs patents are very crucial. You can obtain a design patent much more quickly than a regular patent. It’s advised that startups file their design patent right away, in order to thoroughly protect their intellectual property. If you register your design patent in China as soon as possible, you may be able to avoid unnecessary headaches down the road.

3) Trademarks are Necessary

Some companies think that trademarks are not required in China, especially if they’re operating on a small scale, or if they're not actually selling anything in China. However, without a Chinese trademark, someone else can essentially steal your IP, register your trademark in China themselves and prevent your goods from leaving the country. It's not an uncommon occurrence!

4) Chinese Contracts are a Good Idea

When communicating with Chinese companies, English contracts can sometimes lead to cross-cultural misunderstandings. There can be lots of mistaken interpretations. Putting something in writing, in Chinese, can make things clear and avoid any miscommunications.

After all, these contracts are very important for American businesses. Manufacturers, vendors and other Chinese companies should have something preventing them from breaching the contract, which would result in heavy penalties on their part. You want to have something hanging over their heads, that they're worried about in the case of a breach, as you would then be able to sue them in China, freezing their bank accounts.

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