Speech by Assoc Prof Ho Peng Kee at the Opening of the SIPO-IPOS Conference
15 Jun 2007 Posted in Speeches
Commissioner, State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO), Mr Tian Li Pu
Ladies and Gentlemen
A very good morning
- I am very happy to be here in Beijing to deliver the Opening Address of this SIPO-IPOS Conference 2007.
This Joint Conference is a momentous event for Singapore and China’s cooperation in the field of Intellectual Property (IP) and is a visible symbol of the strong friendship between us.
- This Conference follows the inaugural session held in Singapore last year, which was strongly supported by the Chinese IP authorities. Last year’s Conference helped Singapore-based companies and IP practitioners better understand the Chinese IP system, and was extremely well received by the participants. It is therefore only natural that we follow up on its success by holding this year’s Conference here for the first time in Beijing. We have brought a team from the IP office of Singapore and established Singapore IP professionals to share with our Chinese guests IP developments in Singapore and the ASEAN region.
Promoting Exchange: Goods
- Although our IP exchanges took place only within the last few decades, China and Singapore enjoy a long history in bilateral exchanges. These exchanges, which have doubtless been enriching our respective countries over the years, take place in three forms.
- The first kind of exchange involves the exchange of goods. In fact, some of the earliest known references of Singapore were recorded by Chinese traders. Chinese junks laden with precious products like fine silk, porcelain and pottery, followed the trade winds to Singapore, and there they met with traders from the region, and Arabs and Indians with their wares, clothes and spices.
- Since then, growth in the exchange of goods has been phenomenal. Over the last two decades, we have seen China’s transformation into a powerhouse of world trade. In 2006, trade between China and Singapore alone reached US$40.9 billion. Today, China is the world’s second largest exporting nation. Chinese brand names like TCL, Lenovo, Shinco, and Hai-er, are finding their way into Singapore as well as other markets which have traditionally been dominated by companies from the US, Europe and Japan.
- But the modes of production and character of trade have changed. The value of products today resides less in the fine handiwork in ware and glass, but more in their utility to the modern consumer and industry. The products of today require less human skill, but more human knowledge. In the past, the novelty and physical quality of the goods exchanged were sufficient to ensure their continued value in the new markets. But today, assets are no longer embodied solely in tangible, physical forms, but increasingly in less tangible forms such as ideas and concepts.
- As the rules of world trade change, so too must our strategies. Without the protection of IPR, products of the highest quality will be vulnerable to unfair attack by rival products. Enterprises from the US, Europe and Japan have been filing IPs actively all over the world to secure greater market space - the US filed 3,783 patents and 5,751 trademarks in Singapore in 2006 alone. Singapore companies have also been active in ensuring they have sufficient protection for their IP not just in Singapore but also in their key overseas markets. In the past few years, Singapore companies have been filing more patents in the US market than their home market in Singapore.
- Domestically, China has done well too. Since 2003, applications for invention patents in China by Chinese entities have outnumbered those of foreign entities. This is a remarkable achievement, and I believe, reflects the technology strengths of the Chinese economy. In time, I am confident that Chinese companies will emerge as some of the world’s most active players in IP. For a company to compete on the world stage, it must not ignore the potential of IP. Otherwise, it may find itself increasingly forced into accepting disadvantageous terms, especially in attractive and crowded markets.
- This conference has therefore been specially designed to assist Chinese businesses heeding the call to “step out of China”. Indeed - step out of China and step into Singapore and ASEAN, which is a 500 million population market.
- The organisers have assembled a panel of experienced IP professionals who will offer practical insights on how one can navigate the IP system in ASEAN as a whole, as well as help you appreciate the nuances of the individual member countries’ systems. Today’s conference will hopefully bring to you a better understanding of how to leverage IPR in Singapore and in the ASEAN markets as you seek to tap the opportunities there.
- This brings me to the second form of exchange - the exchange of knowledge. In the knowledge economy, apart from goods and services, knowledge, when embodied in IP, can also function as a currency. IBM is an example of a successful company that has been able to translate its technical know-how into commercial advantage. Its IP licensing unit generates more than US$1 billion a year from more than 40,000 active patents. Supporting this is a team of IP experts, technology managers, licensing agents, and lawyers, all seeking new ways to monetise valuable technology.
- As trade and investments between Singapore and China increase, we too must seek to increase our knowledge flows by bringing together our technology managers, experts and IP professionals to exchange knowledge about the latest technology offerings, local business conditions and opportunities. There will be opportunities for licensing, cross-licensing or even technology pooling. I am heartened to see such a strong participation from the IP professionals here in the audience. This Conference will provide an excellent opportunity for participants to network and share knowledge and establish business contacts in Singapore and in ASEAN. On this account, I have no doubt that this Beijing leg of the SIPO-IPOS conference will be a tremendous success in creating linkages between China and ASEAN.
Future Directions: Exchange of Friendship
- I am confident that Singapore and China IP cooperation will also grow in tandem with our growing economic linkages. Undoubtedly, the Chinese market remains a very attractive one for Singapore and ASEAN countries. Likewise, ASEAN will only become an increasingly attractive market to China, especially with the 2002 signing of the ASEAN-China Framework Agreement to liberalise trade in goods and services, the prospective China-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (FTA) announced last year, and the commitment made by ASEAN Leaders to accelerate the formation of an ASEAN Economic Community by 2015.
- To support this process, SIPO and IPOS must continue to engage one another in greater dialogue and exchanges so as to maximise the gains from more liberalised trade. At the Joint Council of Bilateral Cooperation (JCBC) meeting last year, Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister Mr Wong Kan Seng, and China’s Vice-Premier Mdm Wu Yi met in Beijing and pledged to increase bilateral exchanges among the industries, IP professionals, government agencies, and academia.
- The respective IP offices of both countries have been building on existing cooperation and increasing exchanges in the form of workshops, visits, information resources and training programmes. Personally, I hope to see this conference becoming a regular feature for years to come, and one which both countries can look forward to as a means of bringing our respective IP markets closer to one another.
- I see such close working relationships as the third form of exchange between China and Singapore - the exchange of friendship.
- In the coming years, I encourage more extensive exchanges between our respective IP offices and training agencies as we seek to foster relations and share with one another our expertise and strengths, thereby collectively raising the standard of IP training in China and Singapore.
- In closing, I would like to thank SIPO for the kind hospitality extended to my fellow Singapore delegates and speakers and for the generous support given to IPOS in making this conference a reality.
- I wish you all a very fruitful conference ahead.
- Thank you.
Last updated on 25 Nov 2012