Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Akin Gump Will Open An Office In Beijing, Protecting Intellectual Property In China

Within the next two to three months Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP is planning to open an office in Beijing, according to Amanda Bronstad in the China Trade Law Report, who interviewed the firm's chairman, R. Bruce McLean, see here.

"Specifically, the firm plans to provide legal work for Chinese companies in the international trade and energy sectors, both of which have strong connections to the governmental entities based in Beijing, he said. The firm also intends to staff intellectual property lawyers at the Beijing office."

Read the article via Law.com here.

Mr. Yitai Hu is a partner of Akin Gump and a specialist in intellectual property in China.
He wrote a very insightful article on this topic in two parts. Hu points out in his article Protecting Intellectual Property In China, Part I, that it is relatively easy to deter IPR infringers, but it is hard to locate and deal with the ones that invests in the infringement: “particularly where the investors have had strong influence with local authorities. Early in 2000, the Chinese government mandated changes to certain investor qualifications in an attempt to ameliorate this problem.”

About trade secrets Hu writes that China has no protection for trade secrets that are strictly intangible. So only if someone is walking away with a document including the trade secret, the owner could enforce his right at the courts for misappropriation of a trade secret. Hu states convincingly that this is rather theft, because a tangible item has been stolen.

Another thing Hu clarified is about non-compete clauses. Those may not be enforceable in China, unless you pay the former employee a portion of his regular salary.

In part II Hu writes: "Because criminal infringement actions are often brought against the company’s CEO, it is not uncommon to find someone serving as CEO in name only so that the management of the company would not be affected if the in-name-only CEO is required to serve a prison term. ”

Protecting Intellectual Property In China Part I (pdf)

Protecting Intellectual Property In China Part II (pdf)

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