With China predicted to become Australias biggest export market up from its current number two spot, Austrade said businesses must view protecting Intellectual Property (IP) as a central element of a Chinese business strategy.
The advice comes as exports to China continue to climb. Latest figures show in five years, merchandise exports to China more than doubled. For the financial year 2005-06 to April merchandise exports were valued at $14.4 billion compared to $6.3 billion for the same period in 2000-01.
In Australia from 17 July to 26 July to lead seminars on IP protection along with IP Australia (details below), Austrades Beijing-based Senior Trade Commissioner, Kym Hewett said that it is essential Australian businesses properly manage IP as a core element of their China export strategy.
"Protections for IP routinely found and used in Australia may not apply at all, or in the same way, in China. Local advice in China and knowledge is essential to Australian businesses, otherwise any product that attracts a premium because of its brand appeal, or technology is at risk," Mr Hewett said.
"Its imperative to register your IP in China to obtain protection and Austrade can advise on professional experts to assist with this process".
"Theres been substantial progress over the last 15 years in China to protect IP with well established procedures for the registration of patents, Trademarks, designs, trade secrets and domain names. China subscribes to all relevant international treaties and conventions."
"Managing IP in China is crucial and must be approached in a systematic and effective way. Businesses need to ensure they have a good understanding of the realities of the Chinese business and legal environment," he said.
Export opportunities in China go across the board and include resources and energy, agribusiness, food and beverage, health and well being, fashion, consumer goods, education and business services, ICT, infrastructure and automotive.
Mr Hewett said there are some strategies businesses can use to utilise IP infrastructure to protect them.
"Businesses planning to enter the China market need to identify upfront their main IP risks," he said. "Its important to find if you have IP thats registrable in China and the costs and timeframes involved. Also if your product or service is at risk outside of China (eg if its discovered by travellers, business visitors etc). Its also important to find out just how loss of control of IP might compromise your core business objectives and to develop strategies to ensure IP doesnt leak out into the market."
"Some of the strategies to overcome IP problems include maintaining secrecy around key elements of a production process, the provision of 'black box' componentry, organising for partial manufacture in China and part elsewhere and surfing the wave of innovation," Mr Hewett said.
In the financial year to April 2006, export figures show Western Australia leads the way with merchandise exports to China valued at approximately $7.9 billion, Queensland follows with $2.2 billion then New South Wales $1.6 billion, Victoria $1.5 billion, the Northern Territory on $460 million, South Australia $353 million, Tasmania $216 million and the ACT on just over $400,000.
Protecting intellectual property in China seminar details:
17 July (Perth), 19 July (Adelaide), 20 July (Melbourne), 21 July (Canberra), 24 July (Sydney), 26 July (Brisbane).
For more information about the China IP seminars and to register, visit: www.austradeevents.com.au/IPChina