Having recently returned home from three weeks in Beijing and one week in Taipei and having refreshed myself with the mineral water equivalent of world air quality here in Sydney, I can reflect afresh on comments and guidance from our patent attorney associates in China and Taiwan.
Filing for IP protection with a reputable firm in China or Taiwan is not cheap and a significant proportion of costs arise from translation requirements. In the same way that one needs to be prepared to sing a song with their friendly business associates at a Karaoke bar in China, one also needs to prepare their foreign patent attorney associates with instructions for making patent filings in their country well in advance – to leave time for translation. If translations needs to be rushed it almost always costs more. Instructions for patent filings in China or Taiwan should be provided to foreign associates at least 1 month in advance of any filing deadline.
For those of our clients spending time in China and attempting to negotiate a business arrangement with a local partner you may be familiar with the situation where your local counterpart attempts to consolidate that understanding you achieved over a few drinks the night before into a loose 2-page legal agreement. Do not use that agreement as a starting point. The starting point should be an International standard legal agreement, whether it is a joint venture or license agreement and it must be line-for-line bilingual. If you are negotiating a license agreement, it should be lodged with the State Intellectual Property Office or MOFCOM (Ministry of Commerce of PRC) to ensure your local counterpart can pay royalties. All of this can be arranged by our patent attorney Associates in China.
Finally, if you are ever put on the spot where someone is speaking Mandarin to you and you have no idea what they are saying you might consider replying with a recently coined Mandarin phrase, “Bu ming jue li” which might be paraphrased in English as “I don’t know what you are saying but I’m sure its impressive”. To which they will probably laugh.