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SCED's speech at Asian Licensing Awards 2014 presentation ceremony (English only)

     Following is the speech by the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mr Gregory So, at the Asian Licensing Awards 2014 presentation ceremony today (January 13):

Toby (Founding Chairman of Asian Licensing Association and member of the Working Group on Intellectual Property Trading, Dr Toby Chan), distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

     Good evening. It's my great pleasure to join you all today to celebrate the outstanding achievements of our licensing industries.

     "Putting ideas into action and turning knowledge into income." I am sure most of you will agree that this is the key to success in this day and age. In today's knowledge-based economy, businesses very often turn to intellectual property, or IP in short, to seek profit and growth. Licensing, being one of the most dynamic forms of IP trading, enables flexible and diversified use of an IP right to exploit its economic value.

     Licensing is indeed very attractive to businesses. Through the use of good branding, creative contents and new designs and technologies, IP users are able to upgrade their offerings, be they goods or services, and maintain a competitive edge. For licensors, they can expand the boundaries of their innovations and creativity and explore uncharted territories. New geographic markets, re-imaginations in different media, crossovers of goods or services are all venturing possibilities. More than just earning revenue from royalties, licensing will increase the intrinsic value of the intangible assets. In sum, licensing offers a win-win outcome to all parties.

     Hong Kong has a highly developed licensing market. We have many local success stories. For example, McMug, McDull and friends are immensely popular home-grown animation characters that have made inroads into movies, television, live shows, merchandise, etc. They are well received not only here in Hong Kong but also in the Asian region.

     Internationally, we have successfully attracted many world-class rights owners to base their regional operations in Hong Kong, or otherwise entrust their exclusive IP rights to Hong Kong licensing agents. This is testimony to our open, versatile economy, the unmatched "can-do" spirit, and a deep pool of professional IP intermediaries. But all these are premised on the vibrant licensing business in Asia. The rise of the middle class naturally comes with a huge appetite for sophisticated goods and services.

     The surge in the sales of licensed merchandise in Mainland China in recent years is a case in point. In 2013, its market worth was about US$5.5 billion, second only to Japan in Asia. It is the only country in the region that has expanded at a double-digit average growth rate for the years between 2008 and 2013. The spectacular growth in the Mainland's consumer market is set to continue in the years to come.

     This offers great opportunities for Hong Kong, which has long served as a strategic two-way conduit between the Mainland and the rest of the world. According to a recent survey conducted by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, 90 per cent of the respondents recognised Hong Kong as an important base to develop their licensing business on the Mainland. We are thrilled by the findings, but there is no room for complacency.

     With all the opportunities ahead, the HKSAR Government is committed to developing Hong Kong into a regional IP trading hub for co-ordinating IP business activities. To this end, I have been chairing a Working Group (Working Group on Intellectual Property Trading) to advise the Government on the overall strategy and support measures. The Working Group has completed its deliberation on the strategic directions and will later submit a report with recommendations to the Government.

     Hong Kong's licensing business will stand to benefit from our invigorated efforts. In this fast changing global IP landscape, we need to sharpen our competitive edge, grab the opportunities proactively, and turn IP into sustainable business growth. With the concerted efforts of the Government and industry players, I am confident that Hong Kong will stay ahead in this IP game to reap the rewards.

     Ladies and gentlemen, may I take this opportunity to congratulate all the awardees here for the excellence and sterling examples you displayed. In no small part, you have contributed to the truly spectacular growth of the licensing business in Asia.

     Thank you very much. I wish you all a very innovative and prosperous new year.

Ends/Tuesday, January 13, 2015
Issued at HKT 19:05


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