Thursday, December 28, 2006

Li Ka-shing: Bring IP Offenders to Justice Even At A Loss

The Edge Daily from Malaysia gives a summary of an interview Li Ka-shing, China's richest man, gave to Forbes Asia.

Li Ka-shing invites foreign pharmaceutical companies to partner up with him to integrate low production costs in China with the quality control of Western medicine to tap the huge demand in China. Li said in the interview according to The Edge that China needed to put more resources into protecting intellectual property to prevent imitation drugs:

Without IP rights, there would be no new technology developed, but China needs time and resources to set up a watchdog bureau. IP offenders must be brought to justice, even if you have pay $1.10 in legal fees to recover $1 of loss.

And if Superman, as Li Ka-shing is called in Hong Kong, says such things, enforcing IPR at a loss in individual cases to enhance the investment climate at large, people listen, also on the Mainland.

Read The Edge Daily article here.

Update: I found the original article 'Thoughts of Chairman Li' which is a very good read, by Vivian Kwok Wai Yin and Tim W. Ferguson for Forbes Asia, here.


ChinaLawBlog said...

Is he saying companies should spend $1.10 for $1.00 of IP to promote the general good or is he saying companies should do this because it is in their own self-interest.

When I was a young lawyer (many years ago), I was representing a truck manufacturer who was being sued for defective brakes. I called my client contact and told him that I thought I could settle the case for around $25,000, which would be a bit less than the estimated cost to get rid of the case on summary judgment (without trial). The client was furious with me and told me he would rather pay me $100,000 (that part I liked) and pay the opposing side zero than to pay the other side $25,000. As he put it, we all know the brakes were just fine and if we pay this guy, what are we saying about our company? What are we telling our own employees? What are we telling the next guy who is considering suing us because he thinks we are an easy mark? We got the case dismissed for around $25,000 and I learned a hell of a lot. Sometimes fighting a case (and this is particularly true of IP) makes sense to tell the world not to mess with you and I wonder if that is what he is trying to convey here.

ipdragon said...

Thanks for the interesting comment and sharing an example from your own experience.

Of course I am not really sure what mr. Li meant. But considering he is talking to the press and that he wants to convince foreign pharmaceutical companies to join him on his new entrepreneurial adventure I would say he wants to change the IP enforcement climate at large. But maybe he said it, like you proposed, for their own self-interest, however he is saying it than not to the companies, because he does not have to do that publicly, because he will be their partner, but to the potential infringers. Message would be like you said: don't mess with us.

IP Dragon