Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 25 December 2014

Patents must be guarded vigilantly around world

David Elliott, Business Editor
David Elliott, Business Editor

As Northern Ireland's economy has ramped up the innovation volume to 11, our businesses have been coming up with more and more inventions which are finding favour around the globe.

Not that such a move is really news, given some of the world's great engineering and scientific ideas have stemmed from these shores over the years.

That means that protecting our trademarks and intellectual property has always been high on the agenda, something that's even more important given our increasing global reach.

A new case in China, a country we're encouraged to explore for export opportunities, for one of the world's biggest brands gives us a lesson in how protecting a patent might be difficult in such regions.

Burberry has had to watch as the Chinese authorities cancel the trademark for its distinctive iconic checkered pattern with the brush of a pen, one which has become its signature. That's a blow for a company whose success over the last few years is directly down to phenomenal sales in China in particular.

The company is appealing the decision but its position offers an insight into how difficult operating in China can be.

That's not to say we should avoid targeting it from an export perspective because the riches on offer for those companies which do are huge.

But exporters need to be aware that regulation around trademarks are open to different interpretation around the world and can be protected or violated at the whim of officials.

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