The China market represents a massive opportunity for UK businesses. However, regulatory and legal challenges need to be considered. At a workshop hosted by China-Britain Business Council, London – Shanghai Partner Mark Schaub shared his insights from over 26 years’ experience living and working in China.
At the event, Mark provided an overview of trends and developments of law and Intellectual Property in China; contracts, negotiation strategies and pitfalls encountered by businesses who’ve unsuccessfully entered the China market.
Mark noted that over the past 30 years, China has made significant developments regarding the protection and regulation of IP.
“China now has over 300,000 law enforcement officials involved in IP enforcement and new guidelines in place to provide stiffer penalties for IP violations. However, inadequate enforcement of IP laws and regulations persist,” he said.
For companies wanting to minimize risk, Mark stressed the importance of having a robust IP protection strategy that includes doing IP due diligence and registering your trademarks in both English and Chinese. Mark underlined the importance of being proactive in registering interests (patents) and taking the necessary steps to enforce your rights.
With regard to contracts, Mark said its important to have a straightforward contract that can be easily interpreted both parties and easily translated into Chinese. He also stressed the importance of being able to enforce the contract in the case of an infringement. For example, A judgment of an English court is technically enforceable in a PRC court, however, enforcement will depend on the discretion of the PRC court.
Finally, Mark shared his experience negotiating with Chinese counterparts. He said that negotiations usually take far longer than expected and that often parties will not have a clear understanding of what is being negotiated.
“Negotiations are not egalitarian – Chinese companies normally have one big decision maker. The much discussed consensus approach seems to mean that everyone on Chinese side is trying to work out what the boss wants,” he said.