Hong Kong 2006
Chapter 5:
Commerce and Industry
Merchandise Trade Performance
The Manufacturing Sector
The Services Sector
External Investment
The Institutional Framework
External Commercial Relations
Small and Medium Enterprises
Promotion of Innovation and Technology
Protection of Intellectual Property Rights
Professional Services Development Assistance Scheme
Business Facilitation
Trade Documentation
Hong Kong Awards for Industries
Trade and Industrial Support Organisations
Standards and Conformance Services
Human Resources, Technical Education and Industrial Training
Consumer Protection
Trade in Endangered Species
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Protection of Intellectual Property Rights

Hong Kong is committed to maintaining a robust regime for protecting intellectual property rights. With its comprehensive legislation, convenient registration, vigorous enforcement and imaginative public education, Hong Kong has gained a well-earned reputation for effective protection of intellectual property.


With the implementation of various electronic services since 2003, intellectual property agents in Hong Kong may file applications on behalf of their clients anywhere in the world electronically in a secure and user-friendly environment on a 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week basis. Hong Kong's patent, registered design and trademark databases are available for search in Chinese or English through the Internet at any time, free of charge (http://ipsearch.ipd.gov.hk).

In 2006, the Intellectual Property Department completed its launch of new interactive services. The interactive services enable instant approval for change of particulars of owners and agents of trademarks, patents and designs, extension of time of trademark applications and registration of assignments and assents for registered trademarks and trademark applications.

In 2006, 47 per cent of the applications for trademark registration were filed electronically (or 12 percentage points higher than 2005). As regards applications for patents and designs registration, the migration rate stood at 30 per cent and 34 per cent respectively.

Trade Marks

The Trade Marks Registry is responsible for the registration of trade marks. In 2006, 22 994 applications were received, comprising 14 780 single-class applications and 8 214 multiple-class applications. During the period, 17 907 marks were registered, a decrease of 9.1 per cent compared with 19 689 in 2005. Out of the total of 100 countries filing applications, the principal places from which applications originated were:

  HK, China 8 058   Germany 585
  US 3 420   Switzerland 545
  Mainland China 3 389   United Kingdom 526
  Japan 1 743   Taiwan, province of China 498
  France 616   Italy 471

The register had a total of 209 699 marks by the end of the year.


The Patents Ordinance provides for the grant of standard patents based on patents granted in the State Intellectual Property Office of China, the United Kingdom Patent Office or the European Patent Office (in respect of patents designating the United Kingdom). It also provides for the grant of short-term patents, which may be registered following local formality examination procedures. In 2006, the Patents Registry received 13 790 standard patent applications and 5 147 were granted. There were also 520 short-term patent applications and 436 were granted.

Registered Designs

The Registered Designs Ordinance provides for the registration of designs in the HKSAR. In 2006, the Designs Registry received 3 424 applications for the registration of 5 724 designs, including 2 721 single-design applications and 703 multiple-design applications. During the year, 5 356 designs were registered.


The Copyright Ordinance provides protection for literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works, typographical arrangements of published editions, sound recordings, films, broadcasts, cable programmes and performers' performances irrespective of the domicile of the copyright owners. In line with international standards, there is no requirement to register copyright.

In March, the Copyright (Amendment) Bill 2006 was introduced into the Legislative Council. Proposals in the bill included new business end-user criminal liability for copyright infringement, measures for improving the copyright exemption regime, enhanced deterrent against circumvention of technological measures that protect copyright, the introduction of rental rights for films and comic books, and further relaxation for the use of parallel imports of copyright works.

In December, the Government also issued a consultation document seeking public views on whether, and if so how, copyright protection in the digital environment should be enhanced. Issues covered in the consultation document included legal liability for unauthorised uploading and downloading of copyright works, protection of copyright works transmitted to the public via all forms of communication technology, the role of online service providers in relation to combating online piracy, how best to facilitate copyright owners in taking civil actions against online infringement, statutory damages, and copyright exemption for temporary reproduction of copyright works.


The Customs and Excise Department is responsible for enforcing criminal sanctions for the protection of intellectual property rights. It investigates reports of copyright infringement and trade mark counterfeiting, and takes action against the manufacture, distribution, sale, import and export of pirated and counterfeit goods and possession for business use of certain copyrighted works. The following is an account of the department's enforcement actions in the year:

  Copyright cases Trade descriptions cases
 Cases effected 9 127 987
 Persons arrested 1 063 709
 Seizure value $127 million $126 million

The department maintains stringent control on all optical disc and stamper factories to prevent them from engaging in copyright piracy activities. Optical disc and stamper manufacturers are required to apply for a licence from the Commissioner of Customs and Excise.

The department also took enforcement action against business end-user piracy cases. The enforcement result since the introduction of the end-user liabilities in 2001 is as follows:

  Corporate software piracy Use of infringing music videos in karaoke
 Cases effected 92 43
 Persons arrested 201 102
 Seizure value $4.69 million $2.36 million

The department's Special Task Force continued to carry out repeated and focused raids on retail outlet black spots and track down their storage and manufacturing facilities. As a result of the department's vigorous enforcement actions, large-scale illicit manufacturing activities of optical discs have been successfully stamped out.

The department also carried out repeated raids against known black spots for selling of counterfeit goods, which resulted in a significant reduction in such illegal activities. In order to evade customs detection, the counterfeiters have to operate for short periods at irregular hours. Some of them only display photographs/catalogues of counterfeit goods to potential customers who are then taken to hidden showrooms. In 2006, the department cracked down 61 such showrooms.

After the first-ever successful enforcement action against illegal peer-to-peer activities on the Internet in 2005, such infringement activities have been substantially reduced. The department has established two dedicated teams for fighting internet piracy. The teams have achieved the following since establishment:

  Copyright cases Trade descriptions cases
 Cases effected 47 23
 Persons arrested 78 29
 Seizure value $3.32 million $1.75 million

The department continued to work closely with the intellectual property rights industry. New initiatives in 2006 included the Fast Action Scheme, which aims at achieving quick response to complaints about infringements received in exhibitions; and the Youth Ambassador Against Internet Piracy Scheme, which aims at combating illegal file-sharing activities on the Internet using the BitTorrent (BT) software and educating youngsters to respect intellectual property rights.

Public Education

In 2006, the Intellectual Property Department continued to roll out territory-wide campaigns and produce announcements of public interest to emphasise the importance of intellectual property rights. Its primary and secondary school visits programme promoting respect for intellectual property rights was run for the tenth year in 2006, covering 71 schools and 27 483 students. During the year, the department intensified its efforts to assist the business community to achieve intellectual property compliance. A pilot 'Business Software Certification Programme' was launched to help organisations, especially SMEs, manage their software assets effectively. The department continued to commission annual surveys on public awareness of and the business sector's attitudes towards intellectual property. The results of the surveys provided useful insights for strengthening government efforts in promoting intellectual property rights.

Cooperation with Mainland Counterparts

The Intellectual Property Department continued to work closely with its Mainland counterparts in promoting protection of intellectual property rights under the Guangdong/Hong Kong Expert Group on the Protection of Intellectual Property Rights. Cooperation projects included organising seminars on 'Intellectual Property and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) Development' in Guangdong Province to encourage SMEs to manage properly their intellectual property rights, and launching the 'No Fakes' Pledge Scheme in various cities in Guangdong province. The department also assisted the State Intellectual Property Office of China in facilitating Hong Kong residents to take the National Qualification Examination for Patent Agents 2006. Under the Pan-Pearl River Delta Intellectual Property Cooperation framework, a programme for civil services in the region was arranged for further exchange of experience and information on intellectual property protection.

In 2006, Hong Kong Customs continued to have close cooperation with its counterparts in the Mainland in exchanging experience in the enforcement of intellectual property-related offences. Liaison meetings, training seminars, visits and information exchange between the two sides were regularly conducted. Hong Kong Customs also mounted joint operations with the Guangdong Customs on a regular basis for combating the smuggling of infringing goods across boundaries.

Participation in International Organisations

To keep abreast of international developments in intellectual property protection, the Intellectual Property Department continued to participate in various international forums, including the activities of the WTO Council for Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), conferences at the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), and the Diplomatic Conference for the Adoption of a Revised Trademark Law Treaty. The department also represented Hong Kong, China at other international and regional intellectual property symposiums and conferences, including the 22nd meeting of the APEC Intellectual Property Experts Group held in Hanoi, Vietnam in February and the 23rd meeting held in Guadalajara, Mexico in August.

2005 I 2004 I 2003 I 2002 I 2001 I 2000 I 1999 I 1998 I 1997