FAQ – Intellectual Property

Q 1: What is intellectual property? How can intellectual property rights be protected?
Ans: Intellectual property is refer to the rights that your business and products can enjoy in all aspects. The most common intellectual property rights are trade secrets (undisclosed business information), copyright, registered designs, patents and trademarks, which protect your business or product in different ways. You may have to consider acquiring more than one right to give adequate protection to your business and products.


Q2: What is a trademark?
Ans: A trademark is a sign that distinguishes the goods and services of one trader from those of others. Typically a trademark can be words (including personal names), indications, designs, letters, characters, numerals, figurative elements, colours, sounds, smells, the shape of the goods or their packaging or any combination of these. A sign must be capable of being represented graphically in order for it to be registered as a trademark.


Q3: What is the difference between Trademark Registration and Company Registration?
Ans: Separate laws and systems regulate the registration of company names, business names and trademarks in Hong Kong. A company name registration at the Companies Registry or a business name registration at the Business Registration Office (Inland Revenue Department) is not the same as a trademark registration at the Trade Marks Registry. A business or company name registration is not an indication of trademark rights, or that the business or company has rights to use its name or a trademark in promoting or dealing in goods and services.


Q4: What information is needed to apply for a trademark?
Ans: It may need the name and address of the applicant, the photocopy of the applicant’s business license or personal identity card, the design of the trademark (in electronic file), and the goods or services of the trademark for a trademark application.


Q5: What process does it take to apply for a trademark?
Ans: It may involve applying for a trademark, the preliminary examination, its approval, then examination and announcement, and finally complete the registration and issue the trademark registration certificate.


Q6: What are the registered trademark marks ® and “TM”?
Ans: TM means that as a mark of the use of a trademark. Any user of a trademark can be marked on a registered trademark. It is often used to refer to the use of a mark as a trademark without registration. It is only descriptive and can be applied for “auxiliary registration” to avoid confusion in the registration of other similar trademarks in the future, but its use is not limited to whether the trademark has been registered or not. The registered labeling ® is generally used for trademarks that have been approved and registered by the Trademark Office.


Q7: Is it possible to use ® in registered trademarks?
Ans: If you have registered your goods or services Trademark in Hong Kong or elsewhere, you can use ®. However, if you have not registered a trademark, it is illegal to use this mark ® and you are liable to a fine upon conviction.


Q8: What are patents?
Ans: Patents protect inventions, that is products, substances, or processes which are new and inventive. Patent owners have the right to prevent others from manufacturing, using, selling, or importing the invention.


Q9: How are inventions, utility patents different from design and new patents?
Answer: Invention and utility patents focus on the improvement of product functions, technology, manufacturing and ease of use, while the technical level of utility patents is lower than that of invention patents. Design and new design, also known as appearance design, is an artistic creation of the appearance of a product (including shape, pattern or combination of the two, as well as combination of color and shape, color and pattern), with aesthetic feeling and practicability for industrial use. Therefore, design and new patents are obviously different from the first two patents. It pays more attention to the aesthetic feeling and artistry of creation, so as to enhance the competitiveness of products in the market.


Q10: What are the difference between standard patents and short-term patents in Hong Kong, China?
Ans: Protection under standard patents is renewable annually after the end of the third year, for a maximum of 20 years. Protection under short-term patents is renewable, after four years from filing, for a maximum term of eight years.


Q11: Should I patent my invention before or after publishing details of it?
Ans: You need to keep your invention confidential until you file a patent application. Disclosure of your invention before filing may mean that you cannot get a patent because your invention is no longer considered new. You may also want protection for your invention outside Hong Kong, China, so you need to ensure that any disclosure in Hong Kong, China, even after filing, does not prejudice your patent application in another country.


Q12: What is Patent Application Grant (PAG)?
Ans: In order to encourage enterprises and inventors to protect their technological research results and transform their innovation results into assets, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government has allocated funds to sponsor local companies and inventors applying for patents in Hong Kong and overseas. The Patent Application Grant (PAG) offers a grant of not more than HK$250,000 for each successful application.


Q13: Which countries of trademarks and patents can you apply for?
Ans: We offer application of international trademarks and invention, utility and design patent, its renewals, transfers, litigation, patent valuation and other value-added services. The international trademarks include Hong Kong trademark, China trademark, United States trademark (USA trademark), European Union trademark (EU trademark), ASEAN trademark, India trademark, Japan trademark, Korea trademark, Australia trademark, New Zealand trademark, Middle East trademark, Africa trademark, etc. The international patents cover Hong Kong patent, China patent, United States patent (USA patent), European patent (EP), and patents such as ASEAN, India, Japan, Korea, Australia, New Zealand, Middle East, Africa, and PCT patent application, etc.