Bosses 'wrong' on intellectual rights cover

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 08 April, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 08 April, 2009, 12:00am

Nearly half of business owners mistakenly think their trademarks that are protected on the mainland will be automatically protected in Hong Kong, a government poll has found.

The bosses were asked in the survey, conducted by the Intellectual Property Department between October and November, whether they thought the trademarks, patents or designs that they had registered with the mainland's National Trademark or Patent Registry would be under protection in the city without a separate application.

About 46 per cent of the 1,001 bosses gave the wrong answer - a rise of nearly 4 per cent compared with a similar survey two years ago.

Stephen Selby, director of intellectual property, said the result reflected that many businesses, especially small- and medium-sized ones, might be unclear about how to protect their intellectual property. Mr Selby said the department would need to enhance publicity efforts.

Many tended to think intellectual property that was protected on the mainland would enjoy the same protection in Hong Kong after the handover, he said. But because of the 'one country, two systems' policy, the protection had not been extended.

He said the governments on both sides were looking at measures to simplify the protection registry procedures, but many legal and operational obstacles needed to be cleared. Mr Selby also stressed that the registrations for company name and trademark were different and that the confusion could cost the company.

The survey had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 per cent.

The department started a free consultancy service last month to help companies identify their intellectual assets and to explore ways to generate revenue from them.

Mr Selby said the department served 40 companies in the past month.

The department and its Guangdong counterpart held a seminar in Zhongshan yesterday to promote intellectual property protection to Hong Kong enterprises.

Protection ignorance

Registering a company name is not the same as registering a trademark for the company's products or services

The proportion of bosses who thought otherwise, according to the poll, is: 65%