The China IPR SME Helpdesk supports European Union (EU) Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) to both protect and enforce their Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) in or relating to Mainland China, Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan through the provision of free information and services. These take the form of jargon-free, first-line, confidential advice on intellectual property and related issues, plus training, materials and online resources.
Click here to browse website of the China IPR SME Helpdesk.
Development Solutions, European Chamber of Commerce in China and University of Alicante.
2008 – ongoing.
European Commission EASME/COSME.
Of the estimated 21 million SMEs in Europe, approximately 30% have international business activities, and 10% of these SMEs do business with or are affected by business with China, meaning that the entire SME target audience of the China HD is an estimated 630,000 companies. This is a significant number which is growing annually, reflecting SME internationalization and global value chain integration. It is also noteworthy that the Chinese government is now introducing policies which encourage its SMEs to invest overseas, with Europe being a key destination. Since its launch in 2008 the number of EU SMEs using the China HD has increased year-on-year, reaching an estimated 200,000 individual users to date. Despite the progress made, this number represents only a minority of the total target audience, with many SMEs not yet being familiar with the China HD services.
The initiative aims at:
- Supporting European companies in their internationalisation strategies towards China.
- Raising awareness of the importance of IP as a business asset and increasing the overall participation of European companies within the Chinese market.
The Helpdesk provides strategic information and advice to European SMEs and intermediaries concerning the following key areas:
- Helpdesk Enquiry Service – confidential advice: individual SMEs and SME intermediaries can submit IPR related enquiries directly to the Helpdesk via phone, e-mail or in person, getting access to a panel of experts to receive free and confidential first – line advice within three business days.
- Materials – country factsheets, industry and business: focused guides and training materials addressing IPR issues in China. The Helpdesk can also provide intermediaries with articles about IPR in line with the geographical scope of the project: China IPR SME Helpdesk – Mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan. These articles are written by IP experts and can be used to supplement newsletter content or within other relevant publications.
- Online Services: the multi – lingual online portal provides easy access for all EU SMEs to find information regarding the services of the Helpdesk, including guides, E-learning modules, event information and webinar recordings. The live chat featured on the online portal enables visitors to pose their IP queries to experts in real time. Users can subscribe to the blog Your IP Insider, the project newsletter or follow the Helpdesk on our various social media channels.
- Training: the helpdesk arranges training events and webinars on IPR protection and enforcement in Europe and China, tailored to the needs of SMEs. To accomplish these goals, the Helpdesk cooperates with partner organizations, SME intermediaries, and legal professionals to inform EU SMEs regarding strategy and management of intellectual property rights in China.
Among the services which have been recently launched, the Helpdesk now features an innovative and interactive tool to increase familiarity of EU SMEs with IP issues in the Chinese market: the Serious Game, an online competition that guides participants through common business scenarios linked to IP challenges, which provides an immersive context for situational learning. This new business tool allows participants to increase their knowledge and awareness about managing intellectual property when entering the Chinese market.
The Game begins with the SME in its office in Europe, before the move into China. The SME is allocated an initial budget of 300k that will be used to create products, attract clients, create partnerships with other companies to manufacture and distribute products, protect the business by registering IP and much more.
Following a first stage of creation of the product that can belong to the technology, clothing, chemicals, toys, software and furniture fields, the player has to face diverse choices when entering the Chinese market.
IP registration: following the design of the product the player has to decide whether to register certain features of the products or not.
Trade fair: the player can choose to attend a trade fair, where there is the potential to meet partners and gain visibility for your product.
Office set-up: the player can set up an office in China, hire staff and decide whether to include confidentiality clauses with employees, introduce trade secret protection measures and non-compete clauses for staff.
Enforcement: this is an ongoing process throughout the game. Pop-ups alert the player to infringements found in the market. Each time the SME has a choice: investigate and collect evidence, send cease and desist letter, legal action or simply ignore. For legal action, there are three choices: administrative action, judicial and inform customs.
It is possible to hire a lawyer and detective to help register IP and discover and battle infringements.
Partnerships are also given importance during the game. A diversity of channels have been set to meet potential partners every now and then in order to make sure they are given due attention, improve the relationships with them and reduce the likelihood of infringements.
A pop-up menu is always available to ask for help or for more information during the game.
Each service has a price and depending on the decisions the player will take during the game, the initial allocated budget will decrease or increase by generating revenues.
The game lasts 30-40 minutes. Success is measured on final profits, which are directly impacted by how effectively the player protected his/her ideas and products in game. The game may also end with bankruptcy if infringements are allowed to run rampant.
Back in January 2019 the China IPR SME Helpdesk organized a live session for the Serious Game with TERA Tehnopolis (a joint-venture of the Josip Juraj Strossmayer University of Osijek, the City of Osijek and the Osijek-Baranja County aimed at the development of a knowledge-based economy) in Croatia. With over 20 participants (start-ups, students and faculty staff), the session was geared towards gaining familiarity with IP matters in China in an interactive way. Before the game, Helpdesk Staff informed participants about the purpose and services of the Helpdesk, and after completion of the game the Helpdesk was available to answer any queries of those that played.
To play the Serious Game on your computer click here to download for a Windows OS based system.
Click here for a Mac OS based system.
The China IPR SME Helpdesk Team developed a dedicated training manual with practical tips and suggestions on how to conduct in-house training sessions utilising the Serious Game. Ideal for business associations, HR and training departments as well as start-ups and business students. The manual is available for download at this link:
In 2017 the Helpdesk reached 1,886 SME participants in 49 events among which 29 training events in EU and 20 in China. Since the start of the current phase in September 2018 until present date the Helpdesk delivered 7 workshops around Europe with more than 150 SMEs. The China Helpdesk staff was present at 5 of the most relevant Trade Fairs and Matchmaking sessions such as EEN Annual Conference, ICT2018 and Trustech participating at over 100 pre-scheduled business-to-business meeting presenting the free services of the project.
Identifying and reaching SMEs can be challenging. The owners and managers of SMEs are generally absorbed with day-to-day business operations and might not even be aware of the IP risks they face, let alone know where to seek IPR advice.
The China IPR SME Helpdesk seeks partnerships and collaboration with local business intermediaries such as clusters, regional development agencies and chambers of commerce to proactively suggest joint training sessions aiming to raise awareness and provide support to as many SMEs as possible across Europe and enlargement countries such as, Turkey, Serbia, Ukraine, Montenegro, Moldavia, etc.
The initiative builds on several years of data gathering. There has been a significant improve in the level of understanding regarding the importance of IP, especially among innovative companies across a multitude of areas. The 4th industrial revolution and the widespread use of technology has enhanced the necessity of a strong IP protection and enforcement.
The Helpdesk met a real and urgent need amongst stakeholders for accessible, jargon-free and affordable IPR information with regard to Greater China. In addition, in the delivery of the project the implementing consortium’s innovative methods and problem-solving approach resulted in the project delivering targeted needs-driven services to EU SMEs. Considering the advancement of European SMEs into the global market, the project maintains its relevancy and seeks to improve its operability in future phases.