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IPR: Intellectual Property Systems-A China-Europe Comparison
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China and European Union Member States are members of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) and party to international agreements on protection of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR), namely the Paris Convention, Berne Convention and TRIPS (Trade-Related aspects of Intellectual Property Rights). Therefore, the scope of protection of IPR (in relation to the types of rights, duration of protection, territory and basic protection requirements) is in principal the same in China and Europe. However, there are some important differences which are useful to understand in order to efficiently manage your intellectual property in China. 
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The Dos and Don’ts of IPR Strategy in China
 
DO:
• Register your IP before entering the market Chinese market. You can deal with infringement more efficiently if you already have protection in the territory.  In China, if you haven’t registered it, you don’t own it.
• Consider using Utility Model Patents. These are granted faster and can be applied for concurrently with an Invention patent application.
• Translate your trademarks into Chinese. Chinese consumers will often create their own colloquialism for a foreign mark that has not been translated and this may not necessarily capture the association you wish to convey!
• Use the appropriate offices to register your IP, including copyright. This places you in a good position to enforce your IP rights.
• Submit ALL evidence upon filing legal action. Any documents submitted after this date or without notary confirmation will not be admissible.  
 
DON’T:
• Presume that your IPR is automatically protected in China if you already have registrations in other countries.
• Assume that Chinese Customs will monitor your products. Registration is required for this. 
• Presume that because the time to get a trademark granted in China is very long (24-36 months), it means that there is no real use to apply for a trademark in China. China uses the first-to file system (as opposed to the first-to-use), which means that the party which files an application first is the one most likely to become the owner of the trademark. Awareness of these issues is paramount when devising an entry strategy to the China market. 
• Rely on others to register your IPR for you. Don’t leave this to your sourcing partner or manufacturer; do it yourself with the help of a China-experienced IPR lawyer.
• Assume that registering your rights in China gives you protection in Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan. These territories have separate registration systems.

By Philippe Healey 
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