Email this article
PSCIT's speech at Intellectual Property Symposium on Brand Protection (English only)

     Following is a speech by the Permanent Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development (Commerce, Industry and Tourism), Miss Yvonne Choi, at Intellectual Property Symposium on Brand Protection organised by the French Chamber of Commerce and Industry today (March 30):

Mr (Xavier) Jacquemain, Ms (Maria) Castillo-Fernandez, Director Wang (Hui), distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

     It is a pleasure to join you today.  I would like to express my warm congratulations and sincere thanks to the French Chamber of Commerce and Industry for bringing this meaningful event to Hong Kong ¡V Asia¡¦s world city.  

     The timing of this symposium could hardly be better.  Firms are consolidating their strengths during this unprecedented economic downturn.  And branding is an increasingly important element in today¡¦s business environment.  

     Brand building requires well-planned positioning; excellent communication, and a dedication to quality and reliability. Strong brands can create enormous value for owners as well as customers.  Not only do they build loyalty, brands also articulate company values and create an all-important competitive edge.  

     The Hong Kong Government is committed to brand protection. We appreciate your ¡§Voices of Experience¡¨ at this symposium.  With your input we will be better able to serve our business community.

     Allow me to share with you a few of the Government¡¦s experiences and achievements in protecting the brands of our local and overseas companies.  

     As an international business centre, Hong Kong has attracted a large number of leading international firms to establish their regional headquarters and flagship stores in the city.  At the same time, we receive almost 30 million visitors each year.  Most of them come for the unique shopping experience.  

     Over the years, we have earned the trust of business people and the confidence of consumers.  This is, in no small measure, due to our rigorous enforcement actions against counterfeiting and pirating activities.  We have also placed strong emphasis on raising awareness of and building respect for intellectual property rights in the community.

     Hong Kong Customs has a strong team of about 400 officers engaged in persistent and ongoing efforts to tackle infringement of intellectual property rights.  We also have about 3,400 officers stationing at boundary control points to prevent the import and export of contraband, including counterfeit goods.

     Our Customs colleagues have established close liaison with their counterparts across the boundary for timely intelligence sharing and parallel enforcement operations.  
     Internet auctions of counterfeit luxury brand goods have become a major concern for leading international brands in recent years.  Hong Kong Customs has set up tactical teams to monitor and investigate online illicit activities involving counterfeit goods.

     The department is also acting in concert with the major local auction sites. Under the "E-auctioning with Integrity" Scheme, auction site operators have stepped up screening of auctioned goods.  Rights owners may report suspected infringements to Hong Kong Customs and the auction sites simultaneously for investigation and timely action.

     But enforcement alone is not enough.

     It is vital to raise public awareness of intellectual property rights and nurture respect for these rights.  Our Intellectual Property Department has launched various programmes and reached out to different sectors of the community to promote intellectual property rights.  Territory-wide programmes include the ¡¥No Fakes¡¦ scheme, which targets retail outlets, and the ¡¥I Pledge¡¦ scheme, which is aimed at consumers.

     The department will continue to collaborate with rights owners to ensure that promotional efforts are focused and effective.

     It is only appropriate that my final point today has a distinctly French ¡§flavour¡¨ about it.  Of course, I am referring to France¡¦s most famous export ¡V wine.  More specifically, I will say a few words about the protection of wine and spirit brands, not only from France but from all wine-producing countries.

     As you may be aware, my bureau has been championing Hong Kong¡¦s development as a regional hub for the wine trade since we scrapped wine duties last February.  

     In terms of value, wine imports in 2008 since duty reduction were 82 per cent up.  A string of wine auctions, wine fairs and other industry-related events were held in Hong Kong in the past 12 months.  We have also signed Memoranda of Understanding with France, Bordeaux and Spain on developing the wine trade.

     Every step of the way, brand protection has been a vital ingredient.

     Although we have not come across any counterfeit wine in Hong Kong in recent years, we remain extremely vigilant.  Hong Kong Customs carries out regular risk assessments and inspections at all boundary control points. Preventive measures include the establishment of a special investigation team.  We have also forged an alliance with the wine trade to enhance industry co-operation.

     In positioning Hong Kong as a regional centre for wine trading and distribution, we are establishing closer links with customs and wine regulatory and enforcement agencies in major wine producing regions to speed up the exchange of intelligence.

     Ladies and gentlemen, our dedication to protecting brands, our strategic location and close social and economic ties with the Mainland, help make this city an ideal place for brands to take root and flourish.

     During these challenging times for our economy, we will be working doubly hard to make sure that the intellectual property of our entrepreneurs and the brands they create are well protected.

     We look forward to knowing your views on this subject.

     Wishing you all a successful and fruitful symposium and an enjoyable stay in Hong Kong.

     Thank you.

Ends/Monday, March 30, 2009
Issued at HKT 15:23


Print this page