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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Starbucks in Beijing Palace Museum

People Congress is in session in Beijing. Two bills related to IPR would be discussed, one of them being the new Patent Law, the other, will be Private Property Law.

On top of that, recent Chinese media also gives quite some air time/coverage on the issue related to a small coffee shop in Palace Museum (also known as Forbidden City). Starbucks has been operating a small outlet in Palace Museum for more than 6 years, in a house that was used to be a common room for king's consultants, which was equivalent to meeting room for the senior ministries.

In recent months, a lot of people, and now including members of People Congress, want to kick Starbucks out of Palace Museum immediately, regardless of any commercial contract between the tenant and landlord. These opinions said that it pose danger to China's national culture. One of the report of the news can be seen here.

I have visited Palace Museum more than 6 years ago. Without Starbucks, I think that will be modern version of shops selling icy cold soft drinks, vendors selling ice cream (yes I bought ice cream in Palace Museum in my last visit, and I believe it is a European brand), vendors selling cheap replicate of old artificate. I dont know whether they will ban foreign brands such as American soft drinks or European ice cream in order to protect China's national culture after they successfully kick Star?

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Aggressive patenting in China.

Chinese New Year holidays came and gone. Busy as hell.

I was doing some search as a background search on an invention patent. I am working on a leisure product which is not common in China until in the past 2 or 3 years, so I don't expected a lot of patent in this area from domestic inventor.

I was wrong.

I found there were quite a large number of Invention or Utility Modle Patent from domestic inventors / applicants, with filing date in or around 2003. Now it is four years after these patents were published but not granted. I also noticed that these patents represent design of a part of the product. I can say that it would be a challenge to get granted, given our knowledge of this product our clients and their competitors make.

Is this aggressive patenting or even patent squattering?

So regardless of whether you sell to China now, if you or your competitor manufacture in China, do get IP protection in China.