Intellectual property application tips in HK
You probably know that you should have applied for trademark or patent to protect your brand or your invention, or other intellectual property (知識產權), but how are you going to that? Most of the people would think that the whole process is complicated and tediously long. Therefore, they would seek private intellectual property consultancy firms to handle their applications.
Hong Kong(香港) is typically not a creative region and lacking of inventions of new products. However, Hong Kong plays a significant role on the global stage in term of intellectual property right security. According to The Intellectual Property Rights Index, 2015, Hong Kong is the third Asian country, 16th in the world when comes to protecting intellectual property right (Singapore is the first Asian nation, Japan comes to second, Taiwan and Malaysia secure fourth and fifth place respectively). Although Hong Kong is not a creative region and does not invent new products, it has been playing a role as a world business platform, providing inventors for securing their intellectual property right in the world-class stage. In 2013, up to 98.6% of the patent grants were awarded to non-Hong Kong residents, but took place in Hong Kong (from World Intellectual Property Indicators, 2015). Many of the big companies (especially retail goods business) take Hong Kong(香港) , this small region seriously due to the world class quality of intellectual property security.
1. Should I apply for intellectual property (IP) for my product in Hong Kong?
It depends on your business nature, if you are selling the product to the Hong Kong market, then you should protect your IP in Hong Kong. If you are selling globally, and not targeting Hong Kong (such as a mobile application, online shopping store, etc.), then you probably can skip the intellectual property (知識產權) application in Hong Kong (Retail business in brick-and-mortar should still be applying for IP because the business nature is relatively localized). Hong Kong is a small market for many businesses, a Hong Kong(香港) IP grant is only applicable to the Hong Kong market and companies are still required to apply for IP in other markets. Remember that the trademark and patent grants are only applicable to the local countries. Therefore, companies are more likely to focus on big markets, such as China, Europe, the US, etc.
2. What should I do before submitting an application?
In general, there are three main types of intellectual property – trademark, patent and registered design. Before applying, you have to know that your trademark & patent are unique and not existing in the market, you can search whether if there is anything similar to your intellectual property in Hong Kong from the following link, http://ipsearch.ipd.gov.hk/index.html. If your IP is considered similar to any of the existing intellectual property (知識產權) in Hong Kong, your application will be rejected, and you have to start a new application. Application failure not only costs money but also wastes of time because an application would usually take from five up to nine months.
3. Where can I submit my application? Do you know you can seek advice and file an IP application yourself with no cost at Hong Kong Intellectual Property Department (IPD)?
Hong Kong has established Intellectual Property Department. Many assume that the department is only giving out general information and receiving applications from private IP firms. In fact, you can seek free advice, conduct IP search (to make sure there is nothing similar in the market), as well as submit your intellectual property (知識產權) application at the Intellectual Property Department. You can easily download the application form, fill it up and file an application online, please visit the following link for trademark registration at the Intellectual Property Department, http://www.ipd.gov.hk/eng/applicants/trademarks.htm.
We encourage applicants, who have a limited budget to file trademark application at the Intellectual Property Department. The application of trademark is relatively straightforward and easy to understand, for instance, if you are applying for a logo, you have to make sure it does not look like any of the registered logos in the market, together with the words appear in your logo. If you have any inquiries, you can contact with the IPD directly.
4. Why you should hire an IP specialist for patent application?
If you apply for a patent (專利權), we strongly suggest you can hire an IP specialist with you. The application for patent is to protect your invention and prevent others from producing the same product and making any financial benefits from it. In the application, you have to explain your invention, the benefit of your product, how it looks like, how you sell the product, etc. In short, you have to argue why your invention is unique and does not exist in the market. You need to support your arguments with a lot of evidence, proof, documents, product images, etc. An application form can easily go over 50 pages. You must also cover many aspects of the product as possible to protect the entire product, as well as the class of the product it involves.
The patent application is comparatively much complicated and much harder to be granted. In this situation, hiring an IP specialist with you will be a good idea to give you more ideas and suggestion on the product. Experienced IP professionals have handled many patent applications, and they know what products are unique, what are not, who knows maybe they can give you some ideas for your product, and you can further enhance?
Also, private IP specialists have access and knowledge to the IP in other major markets, such as US, Europe, Japan, China (these four regions are the among largest IP ownership nations in the world), etc. If you are interested in selling your products to any of these regions, you are strongly advised to visit a private IP specialist, who can provide you advice on the foreign market. Although your invention is unique in Hong Kong, it might have been existing in the U.S or Europe for decades. If this happens, your invention is possibly not unique and already selling in the market. You may need to consider improve your product or change your business plan accordingly, before filing any application.
With a limited budget, businesses should spend their funds wisely and make the biggest benefit from the expenditures they pay out.
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