Press release

Intellectual property delegation visits China for first time

Intellectual Property Minister Baroness Neville-Rolfe urged UK businesses to boost their trade links with key trading partner China.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government


Intellectual Property Minister Baroness Neville-Rolfe has today (1 September) urged UK businesses to boost their trade links with key trading partner China by leading the first ever ministerial delegation to the country focussing on intellectual property (IP).

Joining the minister on the 5-day trip (1 September – 5 September 2014) will be some of the UK’s highest profile companies - including Unilever, Burberry and Penguin - and a number of representatives from IP-intensive industries.

The visit begins today with the 2nd UK-China IP Symposium being held in Beijing, hosted in partnership with Chinese State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO). The symposium provides an opportunity for over 100 British and Chinese businesses to network and build relationships with government officials, focussing on the challenges they face in managing and protecting their IP in China.

Baroness Neville-Rolfe will announce that the UK and China will do joint work focused on topics related to global patent reform and making IP systems more efficient for users.

The visit forms part of UK government’s ambitious target of doubling UK exports to £1 trillion by 2020, and within this to double UK exports to China from their 2010 level to $30 billion. UK exports to China were worth $24.5 billion (£15.7 billion) in 2013.

It is hoped the visit will mean UK business will feel more confident exporting their IP to China and better understand where they should turn to for help and advice, while the UK aims to continue building a close and productive relationship with the Chinese government on IP issues.

Baroness Neville-Rolfe said:

There is huge potential for British firms to do business with China, generating new jobs and economic growth in both countries. While many UK companies already have strong trading relationships with China, we must build on these links and work hard together to continue to reduce any barriers to doing business.

That is why I am determined we do all we can to make life as easy as possible for our businesses by improving our bilateral relationships with China on intellectual property matters, essentially the ownership of ideas and the reduction of counterfeits and design theft. This symposium is going to be an unrivalled chance for Chinese and British businesses to share their experiences, discuss business issues with government officials and learn about intellectual property in both of our countries.

China-Britain Business Council Chief Executive, Stephen Phillips said:

Protection of IP is important to every business that has invested time and effort in its development. CBBC’s member companies are keen to do more business with China, but they want to be sure that their world-class innovation and knowledge is properly protected. We are encouraged by the clear commitment of China to ensure better IP enforcement - something that is really important as China continues to move up the value curve.

This week of activities in Beijing, Suzhou, Hangzhou, Nanjing, Chongqing and Hong Kong will build upon the productive policy dialogue and address the practical, on the gound implementation with companies and stakeholders throughout China.

Other issues that the visit will help to address include:

  • making sure UK companies are better prepared and informed about IP in China. This will be achieved through outreach events and support from UKTI and the China-Britain Business Council
  • working more closely with the Chinese authorities to tackle IP crime and reduce the amount of counterfeit goods exported from China. For example, 70% of counterfeit goods seized at EU borders currently originate from China
  • helping licensing societies collect fees on behalf of British creative industries in China who often struggle due to infringement and low valuation of copyright
  • offering practical support to help UK business avoid problems with bad-faith trademark applications. This is situation where someone else registers a trademark in the country, causing the country to have to buy this back at cost and thus harming investment opportunities

The delegation will be visiting Shanghai where the Minister will give a speech at an annual seminar hosted by the UK magazine Managing IP.

Notes to editors:

  1. Interviews with the IP Minister can be facilitated during the course of the China visit. Please contact Bianca D’Orsi (UK) – +44 (0) 20 7215 5080, or Kate Alden and Martin Cui (China) –, 010-5192-4229;, 010-5192-4286.
  2. Prime Minister David Cameron and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang agreed to hold the Symposium during their meeting in December 2013. The first Symposium was held in London in December 2011.
  3. The symposium is one of many events this year (2014) that will bring together an international community of senior IP leaders and experts. In June 2014, the UK, along with OHIM and the European Commission, hosted the first international IP Enforcement Summit at Westminster Central Hall, London. The summit provided a chance to:
    • strengthen and build new partnerships to improve international enforcement activities
    • identify and discuss new and emerging IP challenges in the digital world
    • help create a more effective IP enforcement system that will support and boost economic growth
  4. Since December 2011 the Intellectual Property Office has based an attaché in the British Embassy in Beijing. The position is central to enhancing trade and investment relations and supporting IP and innovation-led businesses abroad.
  5. A new pilot Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) programme was launched on 1 July 2014 between the UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO) and the State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) of the People’s Republic of China. The launch of the pilot programme followed the signing of a Joint Statement of Intent by the IPO and SIPO as part of the Prime Minister’s visit to China in December 2013.
  6. Key facts
    • the UK accounted for the 5th largest number of foreign trade mark applications in China in 2013 with 8,627 applications
    • China was the 3rd largest foreign applicant nationality in the UK with 1,113 applications in 2013
    • in 2013, 845,064 copyright works had been voluntarily registered in China, an increase of 23% from 2012. 164,349 pieces of software had been registered in a separate database in 2013, an increase of 18% from 2012
    • in 2013, China received 2.4 million patent applications, growth of 26% from 2012. These consisted of 825,000 invention patent applications, 892,000 utility model applications, and 660,000 industrial design applications
    • the UK accounted for 1,849 Chinese invention patent applications in 2013. This was slightly less than 2012, but remains the 8th ranked applicant nationality
    • the UK IPO received 23,235 patent applications in 2013, including 159 from Chinese applicants
    • in 2013, courts across China accepted 9,331 and concluded 9,212 1st instance criminal IP cases, down 29% and 28% respectively from 2012. It is the first time in recent years that the volume of criminal IP cases has dropped. 13,625 individuals were handed criminal penalties
    • goods coming from China accounted for 72% of IP detentions at EU borders in 2013 (measured by value of seized products – or 66% by volume of items seized). Hong Kong was the second most frequent dispatch location, accounting for 8% of articles by value (and 13% by volume)
Published 1 September 2014