Using integrated IP strategies to realize business objectives

By Frank Liu, Tiantai Law Firm
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When helping enterprises to establish and protect intellectual property rights(IPR) in China, an integrated strategy combining different types of action plans and different IPR can often achieve good results when it comes to persistent infringers and complex infringements.

In fact, either an integrated strategy, or an action arranged according to the strategy, is ultimately to provide support for the realization of the business goals of enterprises. Taking trademarks as an example, there are two main purposes of protection rights in supporting the business objectives of the right holders, namely, improving the brand awareness of enterprises, and enhancing the market share of the product.

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Frank Liu
Partner
Tiantai Law Firm

The impact of business objectives on strategies. At a macro level there is little difference in the need of improving brand awareness and market share among different enterprises. But for specific enterprises, due to the different organizational forms, development stages, scale, nature of products, and timing of entering the Chinese market, business objectives will also be different.

For example, based on the limits of their product life cycles, enterprises that feature fast-changing and time-sensitive trendy products and face trademark or patent infringements may find the cost of getting involved in protracted disputes on rights establishment or protection unbearable.

In this case, making full use of the existing IPR of enterprises and formulating an integrated strategy that takes efficient and rapid action, supplemented by negotiation, and severe strikes to deter potential infringers, may have a more positive effect on maximizing market share and commercial profits for their products.

For traditional industry enterprises that have been operating in the Chinese market for many years with high reputation and stable market share, such an action plan conducted in a quick and low-cost manner may be effective in the short term, but it may be difficult to meet business requirements of long-term stable market share and continual improvement of brand awareness, and may have a negative impact on long-term business objectives.

On this occasion, an integrated strategy that is robust and includes routine daily tasks, efficient and fast action, and more complex actions that can deter potential infringers, may be more effective for the business needs of steadily increasing its share and gradually increasing its visibility.

For other enterprises in between, or with special business arrangements, it is also necessary to arrange integrated IP strategies according to different business objectives.

Use template strategies with caution. In today’s society, which attaches great importance to efficiency, a large number of IPR establishment and protection programmes based on experience are useful, and can really play a role in immensely improving efficiency and saving time.

However, a coin has two sides. One of the problems that often arises in practice comes from the use of template strategies designed to save time by applying the same template in batches for seemingly similar cases – yet they are different in reality. In this context, if the right holder encounters the same infringer and scenario as before, the template strategy will work. But if the infringer or scenario is different, the outcome is likely to deviate from expectations.

This is because template strategies are just a basic tool, not the whole kit. Without in-depth research and analysis of the case itself, and full understanding of the objectives of action, the hasty use of template strategies is a gamble, and it is not surprising they will meet with unexpected outcomes.

Therefore, template strategies should be regarded only as a reference. The essence of a strategy or plan still lies in a tailor-made strategy, after fully grasping and comprehensively analyzing the case. In this process, carefully reviewed templates can save time, but it is important to note that the template is only a tool. Only by recognizing this can the use of template strategies save time and improve efficiency without hurting the case.

The advantages of an integrated strategy. In practice, the proper use of an integrated IP strategy has worked well in helping enterprises to establish a complete and effective IP mechanism in China, as well as in dealing with persistent and experienced infringers. In practice, it has also successfully regained the market share lost by IP infringement many times, while also enhancing the visibility of enterprises and their brands in the Chinese market.

POINTS TO NOTE

If an enterprise wants to achieve its business objectives with the help of an integrated IP strategy, it should understand that: (1) The integrated IP strategy is effective but not omnipotent, and the core of achieving business objectives of an enterprise relies on their stable high-quality products or services for a long period of time; (2) The integrated IPR strategy is a routine strategy for enterprises, but not a once and for all move; (3) For right holders, it is not enough to rely on the sheer feeling that justice is on his or her side in fighting against infringements.

After years of being cracked down upon, the infringers have accumulated more and more experience against right holders, to avoid being punished. Only by surpassing and suppressing infringers with a technical strategy can the desired effect of the integrated IP rights strategy be achieved.

To sum up, by customizing an integrated IPR strategy, combined with the ability to provide high-quality products or services in a long-term and stable manner, the author believes enterprises will be able to achieve their business purposes in the Chinese market.

Frank Liu is a partner at Tiantai Law Firm

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Tiantai Law Firm
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Shanghai 200051, China
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