IP protection still poor, say firms

PUBLISHED : Friday, 12 May, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 12 May, 2006, 12:00am

Most Hong Kong firms believe intellectual property protection is an important part of a successful business, but they say there is not enough protection.

The head of the government's Intellectual Property Department, Stephen Selby, said yesterday most businesses were now aware of the law and considered trademarks to be valuable company assets. His comments came at the launch of the third survey on business attitudes to intellectual property.

Of the 1,201 companies contacted in the department-commissioned survey, 30 per cent had a trademark, patent or design registered in the city - up from 22 per cent last year - and 94 per cent knew there was legislation protecting their property. Most Hong Kong firms had also accepted that intellectual property was an important part of their business.

More companies had adopted guidelines for intellectual property. The number banning staff from uploading or downloading illegal files had risen about 10 per cent over last year and 70.8 per cent barred staff from installing pirated software.

But the majority of firms still felt the level of protection offered was insufficient.

This year 42.2 per cent of firms believed intellectual property protection was adequate, up from 37.4 per cent the year before. However, this year, 51 per cent believed protection measures were inadequate.

Mr Selby said the department would need to do more to find out why businesses did not think protection was good, citing high rates for seizure of pirated goods at ports, and the relatively few court cases involving intellectual property violations. 'Hong Kong is the best in the region when it comes to IP protection but businesses are still not happy,' he said.

Mr Selby said the department's role had mainly been to educate companies about intellectual property protection and how to best use the legislation. But now the government would shift to helping businesses develop strategies to prevent violations from happening.