The ABC of IP – Understanding IP in ASEAN
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Tim, you have recently returned from a busy week in Singapore – first, for those that don’t know, what’s the main role of the UK’s Intellectual Property Office (IPO) and what was the IPO doing there?
I was kindly invited by the Intellectual Property Office Singapore to speak at the opening plenary of Singapore’s IP Week, an annual event involving international Intellectual Property (IP) offices. It was an opportunity to share the UK’s IP vision and UK-ASEAN IP partnerships with government and industry leaders from over 45 countries. It was also a chance to meet with key IP stakeholders from across ASEAN to share the UK’s experiences and discuss how governments and industry can partner to create a robust and modern IP ecosystem to support businesses.
Is the ASEAN region significant for the UK’s IPO?
As I’m sure readers know, South East Asia, also referred to as ‘ASEAN’ is predicted to become the world’s fourth-largest economy by 2030, and its member states are leveraging technology and innovation to fuel this economic growth. In 2016 UK-ASEAN trade went above £30 billion for the first time. The region is the third-largest consumer market after China and India. It’s a significant region for British businesses looking to export and therefore it’s an important region for the IPO.
The IPO appointed its first ASEAN attaché in 2013, and we have recently increased this resource to two showcasing the importance of ASEAN to the UK.
What were the highlights of your week?
I met with several business leaders to understand their IP issues. This is key to making sure that through our collaborative work, we focus on tackling the biggest barriers faced by business in the region. When I had opportunities to meet with heads of IP offices across ASEAN it meant that we were able to discuss how we can work together to eradicate those barriers.
We have an amazing team based in the region and it’s always good to see, first-hand, the great work our attaché team do, and I was able to talk about their work as well as how the IPO can help businesses not just in ASEAN but the wider Asia region on Channel News Asia.
Is it important for the UK to engage in IP issues in the region?
The UK is regarded as a world leader in IP. We’re ranked 5th in the global innovation index, but in IP enforcement, we’re seen as the partner of choice. Countries in the region understand that to grow their economy they need to make sure that businesses not only protect their IP but be confident that it can be enforced. We’re pleased to report that the UK’s support has had a considerable impact on helping countries in the region with their IP enforcement, which in turn gives confidence to businesses trading there.
How could businesses thinking of trading in the region benefit from working with your teams?
IP is increasingly important as a tool to enable businesses to expand and export however it can sometimes be a technically complex issue. To give businesses a focal point through which to address their IP questions, the IPO has an IP attaché team based in Singapore covering the ASEAN region. This is a free resource for businesses where they can access expertise on the ground and one to one support.
Our aim is to help IP-rich British businesses approach trade confidently and our attaché network is key to achieving this. Do get in touch with Desmond (Desmond.Tan@fco.gov.uk) or Christabel (Christabel.Koh2@fco.gov.uk) if you have any IP queries in ASEAN.
We can’t let you go without mentioning Brexit – what was the interest when you were in Singapore, and what did you say when asked?
There were of course questions about Brexit! Businesses can be reassured that the IPO has been preparing for the UK leaving the EU since the referendum results in 2016. In any scenario, the UK Government is committed to ensuring that there will be continuity of IP rights for all rights holders and no existing IP rights will be lost as a result of the UK leaving the EU. Businesses should be aware that there will be changes to the intellectual property framework in the UK which might affect them; the government has published guidance to help people understand what the changes are and I would encourage any business with a question to go and take a look at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/ip-and-brexit-the-facts.
For more information on the Intellectual Property Office website, please click the link to their homepage below.