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SCED's speech at International Roundtable Discussion on Intellectual Property Trading in Berlin (English only)

     Following is the speech by the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mr Gregory So, at the Roundtable Discussion on Intellectual Property (IP) Trading in Berlin held by the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office, Berlin on June 1 (Berlin time):

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

     Guten tag. ("Good afternoon" in German)

     I am delighted to be here in Berlin. This is my first visit to this wonderful city. Berlin and Hong Kong actually have quite a few things in common: both are vibrant global cities with rich heritage; both share a multi-cultural spirit with people from all kinds of ethnic backgrounds and nationalities; and both are strategically located at the heart of major economies, with Hong Kong serving as a gateway to Mainland China in a similar way as Berlin is acting as a gateway to central European countries.

     Indeed, Hong Kong has long served as a strategic "gateway" between the Mainland and the rest of the world. This is not just for trade and investment, but also for ideas and innovations. And speaking of which, Germany is known as the land of ideas. The country is viewed by many as a model for innovation and competitiveness. The IP roundtable today is a perfect opportunity to ignite these ideas and put them into action. And it is indeed my pleasure to discuss with you the topic of IP trading. I look forward to picking the minds of the experts and veteran practitioners who are present today.

     I think we can all agree that IP has a soaring value to the global economy, and is changing the rules of competition and survival in today's commercial world. Businesses worldwide are proactively trading intangible knowledge across economies to drive growth.

     The implications of IP trading for Asia are particularly enticing. The Mainland of China is a case in point. With its economy now among the world's largest, its place as a major user, purchaser, generator and seller of IP will only continue to grow. Since 2012, the Mainland of China has filed more patents, trademarks, industrial designs and other major IP rights than any other economy in the world.

     Hong Kong is well positioned to play a crucial role in this trend of IP trading, as in previous transformations. Let's just say that we have a knack for riding global economic tides. Hong Kong today is flourishing as a trading hub and "super-connector" between the Mainland and the rest of the world. With our sound financial and legal systems, low tax regime and world-class service industries, Hong Kong is well poised to embrace the immense business opportunities brought about by IP. For example, we may offer the Mainland of China and overseas players an expanding range of IP intermediary services, from IP agencies and management to consulting, legal and alternative dispute resolution services, due diligence, and more.

     Over the years, we have accumulated much experience in cross-border IP transactions, and have become a regional marketplace and service centre for activities ranging from copyright trading and licensing and franchising to design services and technology transfer. Increasingly, we serve as the intermediary between overseas buyers and sellers of IP and their partners in the Asian region.

     Hong Kong is also an IP sourcing centre, thanks in part to our high-profile trade shows. Apart from our world-renowned trade shows, it helps, too, that we are blessed with a deep pool of experienced, multi-lingual IP professionals. Through Hong Kong, overseas IP can be customised to suit the specific needs of Mainland buyers. With the Mainland's own IP rapidly expanding, we are helping their owners find global markets as well.

     And that means opportunities for German companies too. Yes, our service providers in Hong Kong can help your clients manage, market and sell your intellectual property - in the Mainland and beyond.

     With all these opportunities waiting, the challenges ahead are how to ensure society can benefit from IP exploitation. We are committed to developing Hong Kong into a premier IP trading hub, just as we have gone a long way flourishing in trade in goods and trade in services. We strive to be a hub for co-ordinating IP business activities in such areas as marketing, sourcing, agency and other support and intermediary services.

     To accomplish the goal, we have been exploring specific policies and other support measures that would bring our offerings in the IP realm to a new height. In a nutshell, we are building an ecosystem in which overseas and local entrepreneurs can meet, discover synergies and access markets, capital and talents together.

     Allow me to give you a few examples of action already underway:

     First, we work hard to strengthen our IP regime. We are pushing a bill through the legislature to update our copyright regime. In addition, we are preparing a bill to introduce the "original grant" patent system to Hong Kong. In trademarks, we are consulting the public on the merits of introducing the Madrid Protocol.

     Second, we support IP creation and exploitation. We are offering more funding support to promote R&D (research and development) activities in the private and public sectors. We are taking measures to assist small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in raising their awareness of IP, as well as developing more effective IP management and commercialisation capabilities.

     Third, we foster IP intermediary services and manpower capacity. We are supporting the development of IP valuation reporting standards and highlighting IP as a specialty area serviced by our arbitral and mediation bodies. We will also help SMEs exploit IP effectively by means of running and sponsoring training courses in IP-related subjects.

     Fourth, we pursue promotion, education and collaboration efforts. One initiative is from the Hong Kong Trade Development Council. They launched the Asia IP Exchange about a year ago to enhance Hong Kong's online IP trading volume, capabilities and connections. Now, it provides more than 25 000 IP listings and connects with 28 strategic partners internationally and locally. Another example is the Business of IP Asia Forum, our flagship event for IP business. The Forum has grown in scale and stature since its inauguration in 2011. In 2014, we had over 2 000 participants and distinguished speakers coming over from more than 15 countries across the globe.

     The measures that I have mentioned are just part of the progress that we have made so far. We will continue to strengthen our support for IP trading in Hong Kong.

     I understand that many of you here today are experts in IP laws. As I mentioned earlier, one of my current focuses is to strengthen the IP regime in Hong Kong through improving our legislation, and I look forward to learning from your expert perspectives in this respect, and sharing our experience with you in the discussion that follows.

     Ladies and gentlemen, in a month's time, on July 1, we will mark the 18th anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of China. The challenges and opportunities brought about by Hong Kong's return to China in 1997 are sometimes likened to those of Germany's reunification in 1990. The fact that both Germany and Hong Kong have prevailed and risen to the challenges and grasped the opportunities during times of change speaks volumes for the spirit of our people and their confidence to succeed. Now is an opportune time for further growth, in the form of IP business. Let us all work together in this "game-changer" to stay ahead of the competitive curve.

     Vielen dank. ("Thank you very much" in German).

Ends/Tuesday, June 2, 2015
Issued at HKT 12:36


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