Panels & Furniture Asia Sep/Oct 2018

PANELS & FURNITURE ASIA • Issue 5 • September / October 2018 SPECIAL REPORT 21 has just ended in April will surely see similarities at the Shanghai Furniture Fair in September. With the constant plagiarism, designers are under pressured to continuously launch new ideas at a faster speed in order to lead the trend and maintain professional vitality. However, the R&D cycle in the equipment manufacturing industry is long and often leads to high costs with low returns, which makes infringement particularly hateful. Mr Chen touched upon the intellectual property rights as Union Brother (China) Ltd. has embarked on the road to rights protection since 2012. Through the years, the process of obtaining evidence, prosecution, collecting evidence, appealing, and claiming has made him vigilant on the issue of rights protection. However, not all companies can fight against infringement till the end with much patience, time and economic cost. What infringement hurts far more than the intellectual property itself, is the company’s enthusiasm for R&D. According to a Chinese idiom, “Spare the rat to save the dishes", it is a metaphor of holding back from taking action due to the fear of injuring others. On top of the investment on R&D, the company would also need to spend twice as much energy and financial resources to fight against infringement while the plagiarised companies, which came “along for the ride” obtain high profits at low cost through infringement. Hence, at the end of day, what is impacted is the innovation level of the entire industry. Mr Chen said, “Appropriate legal education is necessary for both business owners and employees. For example, it should be stipulated in the labour contract that employees should not engage in R&D work similar to the original company for at least two years after leaving the company. Usage of technical information such as drawings and software of the original company are also not allowed without permission.” All R&D projects have a complete process and cycle. Once a legal dispute arises, the technical expert team will compare the source code or drawings of the original company and the alleged illegal organisation before the truth is known. Enterprises should also learn to protect their research results through legal means while employees should consciously do right things. More importantly, organisations which plagiarised need to be made aware of the baneful influence their behaviours have caused to the industry and society, and to stop doing the wrong thing. NO WINNING SIDES Union Brother (China) Ltd. is lucky. Afterall, only about 10 per cent of the intellectual property rights cases in the manufacturing industry in China have won — many of which are politically state-owned enterprises. But on the other hand, Union Brother (China) Ltd. is also unfortunate. A lot of time and money were spent, which have affected customer resources and market share. The enterprises which are affected and unable to maintain the legal rights indicate a weak legal consciousness of the law-breakers; the innocent downstream purchaser who is involved; and the innovation development of the entire carpentry and furniture manufacturing industry, which has been severely dragged. The rapid development of China today has created many myths of being rich overnight. It is easy for people to lose themselves in the illusion and do illegal things to pursue their own economic interests. Being impetuous is the greatest enemy in the woodworking industry — a traditional industry with a rich heritage. What cannot be ignored is that illegal activities occur because there is a market for it. In this battle of intellectual property, the purchaser buying from the company that plagiarises also bears a responsibility. Do remember that quality is proportionate to the price in the market; just as one cannot buy a genuine Louis Vuitton bag with 200 Chinese yuan. AsChina transforms fromamanufacturing to an innovative country, there is a need to create a positive innovation environment for the manufacturing industry and protect the interests of the innovative groups. Enterprises protecting their own intellectual property rights should not ignore the demands of their employee too. Instead, guide them towards the correct values, legal concepts and entrepreneurial ways. There is also no need for companies to feel discouraged if they had experienced or are experiencing infringement. It is an inevitable path and pain that exist in the development of any industry. What matters most is to move ahead with a forward-looking outlook, create high-quality products that are cost- effective, and offset the harmfulness of infringement with better technological innovation. Lay down preventions, argue with reason, defend rights legally, and pursue innovation. If life is all about choices, choose seriously to create a better future through diligence and wisdom. ℗

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