Insights from the 2nd Annual International IP Summit

Practices: Intellectual Property

International IP Summit

Ropes & Gray LLP and Boston College Law School co-hosted a two-day summit focused on complex intellectual property and technology law issues facing U.S. companies operating in China.

Now in its second year, the International IP Summit has quickly become a premier forum for practitioners, business leaders, academics, and government officials to explore the dramatically evolving global IP environment. This year’s event, which took place at the Boston College Law School on October 17 and 18, drew over 150 leaders from technology and life sciences companies, academia, and government.

Featuring over 30 speakers from China, the United Kingdom, Germany, and the United States, the energized panels on Day 1 explored such thorny topics as US-China trade developments; trade reforms; international brand rights acquisition and management; global cybersecurity and privacy; cross-border IP protection and enforcement; and the regulatory landscape for life sciences companies in China. A series of roundtables on Day 2 explored practical and strategic considerations for doing business in China.

The discussions showed that China remains a complex yet robust market, which can offer rich rewards for well-prepared businesses. With the extreme uncertainty and risk posed by the recent changes in trade policy and the regulatory landscape, companies should enter the Chinese market with a clear long-term goal in mind. Several attendees noted that foreign companies are no longer satisfied with granting a license and getting royalties from sales in the Chinese market. Rather, companies are increasingly entering the Chinese market through joint ventures, with local partners helping them learn about the market and build goodwill with local governments. IP-intensive industries such as life sciences, telecommunication, AI, and big data continue to see the highest level of activity.

Attendees also noted that as China works to evolve from a predominantly manufacturing economy to an innovation economy, it has incentives—even apart from increased pressure from western countries—to improve its IP protection and enforcement. Along these lines, China has recently established specialized IP courts and tribunals. From a business perspective, setting up an effective IP strategy in China’s quickly evolving IP landscape continues to be complex and cost-intensive, while the rewards may be less obvious in the short-term.

Overall, China’s legal and regulatory structures require nimble responses from businesses. For example, China’s recently issued Drug Administration Law, which will become effective as of December 1, 2019, and its new Regulatory of Human Genetic Resources, which became effective on July 1, 2019, may each require foreign business to retool major ongoing operations within a matter of months.  Foreign companies entering the Chinese market should carefully consider adopting business and governance models that can proactively adapt to the constantly evolving regulatory regime.

The event was chaired by Professor David Olson, Associate Professor and Faculty Director for the Program on Innovation and Entrepreneurship (PIE) at Boston College Law School, and Regina Sam Penti and Ed Kelly, both partners in Ropes & Gray’s IP transactions practice. Scott Samuels, General Counsel of BeiGene, Ltd., gave the keynote address. Professor Yasheng Huang, Epoch Foundation Professor of International Management at MIT Sloan School of Management, provided opening remarks.

A complete list of panels and speakers is available here.

For questions and further discussions, please contact Regina Sam Penti or Ed Kelly.

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