Celebrating Women on World Intellectual Property Day
Women are in the limelight. With Hong Kong boasting our first female chief executive and the recent historical appointment of two female judges to the city’s top court, the role of women in leadership positions has never been more salient. Women again bask in the spotlight today as we celebrate World Intellectual Property Day (WIPD).
Women powering change in innovation and creativity
Under the auspices of the World Intellectual Property Organization, member states celebrate World Intellectual Property Day every April 26 to learn about the role that intellectual property rights (IPR) - patents, trademarks, industrial designs, copyright - play in encouraging innovation and creativity.
This year’s World Intellectual Property Day campaign celebrates the brilliance, ingenuity, curiosity and courage of the women who are driving change in our world and shaping our common future.
A message of encouragement
Ada Leung, Director of Intellectual Property of the HKSAR government, reflects on this year’s WIPD theme which takes on a more personal implication. “Today more women are leading changes in the world. To me, this year’s theme encourages women to contribute to making the world a better place to live through creative and innovative efforts. It also serves as a reminder to women that although stereotypes still exist to some extent in the innovation sector, they have to break through barriers, make good use of their talents and create their future. Families, employers and those around women should nurture their interests, unearth their potential and build up their confidence. The emphasis on STEM education will encourage girls to nurture their creativity and inspire their innovation from a young age.”
Creating awareness of IPR
To ensure that IPR are respected at an early stage, the Intellectual Property Department (IPD) organises programmes for children through education. “We think education on respecting IPR is essential, and not just for girls,” says Leung. “We work together with the Hong Kong Reprographic Rights Licensing Society on programmes for students, including competitions in kindergartens for parents and children to take part in to learn about respecting IPR. For primary and secondary schools, we have regular programmes such as interactive drama and school talks, engaging students in over 200 schools last year. At universities, we started sponsoring the HK Social Enterprise Challenge organised by the Centre for Entrepreneurship at The Chinese University’s Business School which encourages students to create innovative and sustainable enterprises in 2017. With this sponsorship, we aim to raise the students’ awareness of IP issues and to recognise their potential IP assets.
“Our IP Ambassador programme is ongoing at three universities with law schools –The University of Hong Kong, The Chinese University and City University. This year we have recruited 37 IP Ambassadors who are law students with IP exposure. They go with us to give talks to primary and secondary school students and help us to convey the IP message to their peers and the community at large.”
“One of our earliest programmes to engage the public is the ‘I Pledge’ campaign launched in 1999 to bring the community together to support anti-piracy and anti-counterfeiting measures. Participants pledge never to get involved in Internet piracy activities, never to purchase counterfeit goods and to respect the IPR of others. We are grateful to have beyond 14,000 people, mostly youngsters, joining the campaign so far.”
Supporting business in enhancing their IPR
In business, understandably small and medium enterprises (SMEs) need more support on the IP front. “Even small businesses have valuable IP. For them, the first step is recognising their potential IP value, what needs protection and then formulating a strategy to implement it,” states Leung. “We have an IP Manager scheme where SMEs can come for training. From the basics of IP compliance and protection to IP management, commercialisation and utilisation, they learn how to use their IP best to enhance their business value. They can also take advantage of a free 30-minute consultation service which we have implemented with the Law Society of Hong Kong.
“On June 14 and 15, we will be inviting them to attend a two-day Workshop on ‘Promoting Best Practices in Licensing for SMEs in Creative Industries’ co-organised by IPD with the intellectual property authorities in Mexico and Korea. The workshop will be held under the framework of Intellectual Property Rights Experts Group of Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation.”
Patent system reform to benefit SMEs
Further down the road, a notable development that will help SMEs is the proposed introduction of the Original Grant Patent system in Hong Kong in mid-2019. The new system enables applicants to obtain standard patents protecting their inventions direct in Hong Kong without getting the prior patent granted by one of the three designated patent offices outside Hong Kong. “This will expedite the patent application process and make it more cost-effective for SMEs who want to obtain the standard patent in Hong Kong first. We will set very competitive fees to encourage users, in particular SMEs, assist SMEs in leveraging their IP assets and protecting their inventions.”