Trademarks play key role in boosting brand value

The 10th China Intellectual Property Annual Conference

Trademarks and effective IP strategies play a key role in helping companies drive innovation, foster consumer faith and increase brand value, experts agreed at the 10th China Intellectual Property Annual Conference held Monday and Tuesday in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province.

A sound trademark system creates a market for fair competition and promotes innovation and economic growth, Zhao Gang, deputy head of the National Intellectual Property Administration, told attendees of the Trademark Management Strategy and Brand Value Realization forum, part of the conference.

It is the first time that topics relating to trademarks have been included in the annual conference.

Official data show that in 2018, there were 7.37 million trademark applications in China, ranking the country top globally for the 16th consecutive year.

Even though China is a large filer, it has yet to grow into a powerhouse of trademarks, Zhao said, adding that a number of the country's trademarks have not been recognized by consumers or gained international influence.

Seth Hays, chief representative of the International Trademark Association for the Asia-Pacific region, said that brands and trademarks drive innovation.

"We are living in changing times for industrial revolution, so brands need to anticipate and respond to the impact of innovation on brands and trademark-related issues," Hays said.

He said that 90 percent of small businesses and startups fail due to their lack of consumer knowledge, competitiveness and IP protection. For the remaining 10 percent, their success depends on brand reputation and new innovation in the initial five years of their operation, he added.

Hays suggested companies incorporate innovation into branding, accommodate branding and nontraditional trademarks and establish dialogue with external stakeholders.

Zhao Simeng, legal director of Chinese electronics maker Xiaomi, said companies can never take branding for granted as brands are the bridge between companies and consumers.

"In the traditional era, brands mostly relied on product quality and marketing," Zhao said. "While in the internet of things era, the core value of a brand has shifted from a relationship between things to a relationship between individuals."

Xiaomi has expanded its brand portfolio since 2013. The company has launched a new brand strategy based on mobile phones, artificial intelligence and IoT this year, according to Zhao.

In the era of IoT, there are new challenges with regard to brand management, such as breaking through boundaries between products and services, updating brands and fighting third-party trademark squatting, Zhao said.

There should be more effort paid to improving well-known trademarks' protection and increasing administrative penalties and appropriate punishment for trademark squatting and counterfeit issues, she added.

(Source:China Daily, liangkaiyan@chinadaily.com.cn)