The 9th Business of IP Asia Forum (BIP Asia Forum) - organised by the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) and Hong Kong Design Centre - opened on Dec 6 and lasted for two days at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (HKCEC). This year’s theme was “IP: Building an Innovative and Inclusive Future for Business.”
The 2019 Forum brought together more than 70 prominent speakers, including business leaders from leading technology corporations such as Canon, Microsoft, Nvidia, Google and Impossible Foods, who shared insights into IP strategies for sustainable corporate growth. Carrie Lam, Chief Executive of the HKSAR and Gan Shaoning, Deputy Commissioner of CNIPA, officiated at the opening ceremony. Francis Gurry, Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), delivered a congratulatory message. Carrie Lam said in her speech that apart from focusing on how intellectual property rights manage to promote innovation and creative development, the forum would also highlight how intellectual property rights connect different economies, industries and enterprises to promote sustained business growth. "Innovation and inclusion are not only good for enterprises to do business, but also benefit society as a whole." She pointed out, “also, two national development strategies, the development of Belt and Road Initiative and Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area, are also the focus of this forum that bring unprecedented business opportunities for enterprises and intellectual property practices.”
According to the latest figures from WIPO, the number of worldwide patent applications is currently in its ninth consecutive year of growth, with a year-on-year increase of 5.2% in 2018 to around 3.3 million. In her welcome remarks, commenting on Hong Kong’s advantages as an innovation and intellectual property (IP) trading hub, HKTDC Executive Director Margaret Fong said: “We will continue to build on our strengths, including a sound legal system and dispute resolution framework, robust IP protection system, strong IP support services and comprehensive financial services. Hong Kong plays a vital role in supporting the incredible level of IP activity in Mainland China and Asia as a whole, providing a connection to the international market.” Ms Fong added that the city would continue to be a preferred site for the generation and trading of IP, including technology transfer, licensing, franchising and copyright trading.
Asian entrepreneurs and experts highlight the power of IP strategy
In recent years, Asia has experienced the fastest growth of IP usage. The plenary session held on the morning of Dec 5, brought together Kenichi Nagasawa, Managing Director and President of Intellectual Property and Legal Department at Canon Inc, and Winnie Yeung, Global Assistant General Counsel at Microsoft, to share their insights on corporate IP strategies. Subsequent breakout sessions invited expert speakers to discuss IP developments in Asia and the IP ecosystem in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area. Speakers included Soh Kar Liang, President of the ASEAN Intellectual Property Association; Hirohito Katsunuma, President of the Asian Patent Attorneys Association; Satoshi Konno, Managing Director of Innovation Division, IP Bridge Inc; Hunk Li, Vice President of Comba Telecom Systems Holdings Limited; Ally Zhuang, Deputy General Manager and Chief Legal Officer of Guangzhou Shiyuan Electronic Technology Co. Ltd.
At the keynote luncheon, Ge Jun, Global CEO of ToJoy Shared Holding Group, presented on the likely IP trends in the context of a shared economy. Group sessions in the afternoon covered a range of topics, including co-branding, IP legal tips, business best practices regarding shared IP, trademark problems, and legal policies relating to artificial intelligence.
IP start-ups compete for patents
Launched in 2018, the eagerly awaited open-innovation competition “IPHatch Hong Kong” was held again under the theme “Jumpstarting Your Business.” IPHatch is an open-innovation competition looking for unconventional start-ups or entrepreneurs to bring business concepts to fruition by commercialising the IPs / technology portfolios from renowned multinational corporations. The event aims to boost local start-ups and IT ecosystem while at the same time to offer those IPs second lives. In this session, winners of the 2018 competition shared their inspirational entrepreneurship journey, while investment veterans decoded the critical success factors of start-ups and the secret tips of pitching. Leading international companies Panasonic and Nokia provided 10 IP portfolios − covering various sectors ranging from smart city to the Internet of Things (IoT) − to encourage startups and entrepreneurs to be creative in using patented technologies to expand their businesses.
Charles Lo, Director and Founder of MAE and Upmood, was one of last year’s “IPHatch Hong Kong” winners. He was awarded a licence for an IP portfolio offered by Nokia. Through integrating the patented technology into his emotion tracking bracelet and expanding the scope of services provided by his company, Mr Lo had been able to enlarge his target customer group from small enterprises to big corporates such as theme parks. His next step would be collaborating with Universal Music to publish a song list for music therapy. Another winner was Mok Wai-pong, Chief Technology Officer of Imagixe Limited, who won an image correction sensor licence offered by Panasonic and used it for the development of lightweight tools for smart orthosis and healthcare in order to benefit the disabled. Also winning at the first “IPHatch Hong Kong” in 2018 was Daniel Chun, Founder & CEO of AIRXED Technology Limited. Mr Chun was awarded a patented technology licence offered by Panasonic, which allowed him to progress quickly in a project related to the development of smart home appliances.
Global tech summit: next disruptions
The patent system aims to protect inventions to encourage and promote technological innovation. At the Global Tech Summit held on the morning of Dec 6, a number of science and technology leaders discussed the market demand of innovative technology industries from the aspects of autopilot, smart city, 5G, food technology, and intelligent manufacturing. With the lineup of tech leaders, pioneers, scientists and futurists to decode the imminent disruptive technologies and show how they will shape every aspect of our lives.
In the speech of Liu Huiping, Vice President of HKTDC, he said that HKTDC was committed to creating a platform to showcase the development of science and technology. Emerging disruptive technologies have a great impact on the global economic environment, although it is difficult to predict the next major technological subversion; however, we can identify the major technologies that are important to the future development of the world to peep into the future.
Dan Berman, Director of NVIDIA Autopilot Business Development, introduced the application of AI technology in autopilot and vividly demonstrated the importance of AI technology through video and data. He pointed out that the AI revolution would be an important step in the industrial revolution, relying on the development of GPU calculating capability, the evolution of algorithms and the accumulation of large amounts of data.
Timothy Tam, Head of Public Policy and Government Affairs (Hong Kong) at Google, introduced the public acceptance of smart city construction in Hong Kong and relevant data on "smart digital city." The construction of smart digital city lies not only in the improvement of hardware facilities, but also in the interaction between people and machines, and how to make hardware facilities more practical. From the perspective of residents, a variety of applications have brought greater convenience to life; from a commercial point of view, the development of various digital applications has built trust and confidence between enterprises and residents.
Hilton Wong, Assistant Vice President at Mobility Solutions Consultancy of CSL Mobile Limited, introduced the development of 5G technology in Hong Kong and hoped to realize the commercial application of 5G in Hong Kong in April 2020. 5G makes the digital transformation of enterprises easier and can bring greater development opportunities to enterprises. Thus, he concluded, "the future is unpredictable, but it can be invented. The 5G era has come and will affect society and our ways of lives."
Emerging technologies not only have an impact on our travel, work and life, but also change the way we eat. Heidi Lam, General Manager (Hong Kong) of Impossible Foods, introduced the way of producing delicious meat products from plants, and the impact of sustainable development of food on the whole industry.
Sharpening a competitive edge for cross-media collaboration
Invention and innovation are the main drivers of economic growth, and also the key factors for the success of small and medium-sized enterprises, startups and inventors. The Hong Kong Invention Congress, co-organized with the Hong Kong Exporters' Association, invited experts from Geneva to share insights on the trend and commercialization of inventions. In addition, a number of enterprises shared their research process. The Hong Kong Invention Congress provided participants with insight into the state of the market and how invention and innovation could promote the sustainable and profitable development of business.
Several breakout sessions were held during the forum, one of which was co-organised with the Department of Justice of the HKSAR themed as “Legal Infrastructure for a Sustainable, Resilient and Inclusive Future for Business of IP.” It featured a number of high-profile speakers who shared on the protection of trademarks and brand building, as well as dispute resolution involving IP rights.
Throughout BIP Asia, the Hong Kong Bar Association and the Licensing Executives Society China, Hong Kong Sub-Chapter provided free on-site IP consultation services, with the HKTDC and the Intellectual Property Department of the HKSAR jointly presenting an “IP Manager Training Programme” to help build workforce capacity in SMEs.
In addition, IP practitioners from different sectors and countries/regions came together in the Exhibition Zone to seize networking opportunities with IP service providers, global intellectual property organisations, universities and research and development centres. It is learned that the 10th BIP Asia will be held at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre from December 3 to 4, 2020.