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Speech by CE at Business of IP Asia Forum

Following is the speech by the Chief Executive, Mr C Y Leung, at the Business of IP Asia Forum this morning (December 1):

Margaret (Executive Director of the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, Ms Margaret Fong), distinguished guests, government colleagues, ladies and gentlemen,

Good morning. Welcome to the sixth edition of the Business of Intellectual Property (IP) Asia Forum.

I understand that over 2 400 of you are here, and that more than 80 prominent speakers will be sharing their insights at this valuable, two-day gathering of professionals - IP owners, buyers, sellers, academics, R&D professionals, finance and legal intermediaries, design and technology practitioners.

The Forum attracts such an extraordinary diversity of professionals and players because IP unites a world of disparate interests. And all have a stake in innovation. That is why "IP in the Innovation Era" is this year's Forum theme.

Innovation, of course, has always been an essential ingredient in the success of people, societies and economies - from the advent of the wheel, some 6 000 years ago, to the invention of the printing press in the 15th century and the steam engine in the early 18th century.

The difference today, of course, is the variable of technology - its limitless possibilities. The marriage of innovation and technology (I&T) has set in motion unprecedented developments in every aspect of our lives, for example supply chain technologies that improve productivity and product quality, or online sales that transform the buying experience of consumers.

Competitiveness of the Hong Kong economy, and indeed economies around the world, depends on our capability in harnessing the potential of I&T.

That is why I&T is one of the policy priorities of the Hong Kong Government. Why, this year, we injected a massive US$2.3 billion into a variety of initiatives - to encourage start-ups, promote mid- and downstream research, and upgrade infrastructure of our Science Park and industrial estates. To ensure that Hong Kong remains an economic force in the 21st century.

In technology, an astonishing volume and value of IP subsist. Look no further than the smartphone in your pocket. Today's mobiles - those less-than 200-gram gadgets that dominate our lives - pack a great variety of IP: industrial know-how, patents, copyright, design, trademarks, IC (integrated circuit) topography, among others.

A fast-growing I&T hub, together with a free economy, a strong IP protection regime, and a pool of research and professional talents - all these laid the foundation for Hong Kong to emerge as the regional centre of IP trading and commercialisation. We continue to fare well in the Global Innovation Index compiled by the World Intellectual Property Organization, especially in infrastructure, institutions and market sophistication.

All that, and the world's IP powerhouse at our doorstep. Yes, the Mainland of China has topped the world in the number of applications received regarding patents, trademarks and design in recent years. China also imported more than US$31 billion in technology from around the world in 2014.

The enormous global and regional demand for IP, and its continuing shift to the Mainland of China, offer huge opportunities for Hong Kong.

China's 13th Five-Year Plan, announced this March, outlines the country's policy on IP and the importance of innovation in that national plan. Innovation received unprecedented attention in this year's G20 Summit in Hangzhou, China. As President Xi Jinping pointed out when addressing the G20 Summit, the world should work together "toward an innovative, invigorated, interconnected and inclusive world economy".

For those who wish to tap into the thriving IP market in the Mainland of China and throughout Asia, Hong Kong can be your launching pad. Hong Kong is part of China and therefore offers the China advantage. But unlike Mainland cities, Hong Kong offers the additional advantage of practising "the other system". With the combined advantages of "one country" and "two systems", Hong Kong "super-connects" - we bring business from other countries and from the rest of China together. We do much the same with IP.

And Hong Kong's IP professionals and intermediaries are at your service: IP agents, accountants, valuers, financiers, lawyers, arbitrators and mediators. They can help you with technology transfer, licensing, franchising, merchandising, copyright trading, dispute settlement, and many others.

And we continue to enhance our IP protection regime. That includes reforming the patent system. In June this year, our legislature passed a law providing for a new Original Grant patent system in Hong Kong. It allows applicants to apply for standard patents directly in Hong Kong, without first obtaining a patent from a designated office outside Hong Kong - a measure surely welcomed by inventors and businesses, especially SMEs. We expect to roll out the new system in 2019.

But let me leave it to our Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mr Gregory So, to tell you more, and other new developments, at lunch today.

Ladies and gentlemen, this year's Business of IP Asia Forum is filled with intelligence, business promise and networking opportunities. I know you will enjoy it all, and I wish you all the best in the coming year.

Thank you.

01.12.2016


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