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Intellectual Property Protection in Hong Kong: A Simple Guide

Why does Intellectual Property Protection matter?

Protecting intellectual property (IP) is crucial for encouraging creativity and innovation. Hong Kong is a global hub for creative industries, including film, TV, music, publishing, fashion, jewellery, and graphic design. Strong IP protection attracts international investors and ensures fair business practices.


The Basic Law and IP Rights

The Basic Law, Hong Kong's mini-constitution, mandates that Hong Kong independently formulates its own IP policies and legal protections. Articles 139 and 140 specifically address these responsibilities.


Key Points About Hong Kong's IP Laws

Hong Kong has a comprehensive set of IP laws, ranking 16th in the Intellectual Property Rights Index 2022. It is a significant global IP trading hub and recognizes various types of IP, including:


  • Trademarks

  • Patents

  • Designs

  • Copyright

  • Trade secrets

  • Plant varieties

  • Domain names

  • Layout designs of integrated circuits

Registering a Trademark

To register a trademark in Hong Kong, follow these steps:


  • Check Availability: Use the Trademark Online Search System to see if your trademark is already registered.

  • Application Process: Submit your application online via the IPD Electronic Filing Services or physically to the Trade Marks Registry using Form T2.

  • Review: The Trade Mark Registry will review your application to ensure it meets the criteria outlined in the Trade Marks Ordinance and Rules.

  • Timeline: The process typically takes six months. If approved, the trademark will be published in the Hong Kong Intellectual Property Journal.

Patent Registration

Patents protect inventors by giving them exclusive rights to their inventions. To apply for a patent in Hong Kong, you must:


  • Understand basic patent laws and definitions.

  • Conduct prior patent research to ensure novelty.

  • Prepare a thorough patent specification, including a description, illustrations, and claims.

  • Submit your application under the Patents Ordinance and the Patents (General) Rules.

Hong Kong recognizes three types of patents: Standard (O and R) and Short-term.

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Design Registration

Registering a design in Hong Kong provides exclusive rights over the visual characteristics of a product. The design must be novel and not previously registered or disclosed. The process involves:


  • Application Filing: Submit the prescribed form, representation, and statement of novelty.

  • Examination: The Designs Registry reviews the application for compliance with the Registered Designs Ordinance and Rules.

  • Publication: If approved, the design is published in the Hong Kong Intellectual Property Journal.

Design protection can be renewed for up to 25 years in five-year increments.


Copyright

Copyright protects the rights of creators over their original works without the need for formal registration. It covers:


  • Literary, dramatic, musical, or artistic works

  • Sound recordings, films, broadcasts, or cable programs

  • Typographical arrangements of published editions

Copyright grants owners exclusive rights to:


  • Copy the work

  • Distribute it to the public

  • Rent it out

  • Perform it

  • Broadcast it

  • Adapt it


The duration of copyright protection generally lasts 50 years after the creator's death, with variations depending on the work type. The Customs and Excise Department enforces copyright laws, including criminal sanctions for piracy.


Registered Licensing Bodies

Hong Kong has a voluntary registration scheme for copyright licensing bodies to enhance transparency. Six registered licensing bodies include:


  • Composers and Authors Society of Hong Kong Limited (CASH)

  • Hong Kong Recording Industry Alliance Limited

  • Motion Picture Licensing Company (Hong Kong) Limited

  • Phonographic Performance (South East Asia) Limited

  • The Hong Kong Copyright Licensing Association Limited

  • The Hong Kong Reprographic Rights Licensing Society Limited

Conclusion


Understanding and protecting intellectual property in Hong Kong is essential for fostering creativity and ensuring a fair business environment. Whether you're registering a trademark, patent, design, or relying on copyright, Hong Kong offers robust legal frameworks to safeguard your intellectual assets.


 

Woodburn Accountants & Advisors is one of China’s most trusted business setup advisory firms.


Woodburn Accountants & Advisors is specialized in inbound investment to China and Hong Kong. We focus on eliminating the complexities of corporate services and compliance administration. We help clients with services ranging from trademark registration and company incorporation to the full outsourcing solution for accounting, tax, and human resource services. Our advisory services can be tailor-made based on the companies’ objectives, goals and needs which vary depending on the stage they are at on their journey.

 

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Schedule a 30-mins complimentary, no-obligation call to see how Woodburn can help you. Book a call with our Head of Business Advisory - Kristina Koehler-Coluccia.

Topics we can advise on include:

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