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A shopping extravaganza of intellectual property

Xinhua | Updated: 2016-12-13 14:09

GUANGZHOU - Double 12 Day, Dec 12, is another online shopping extravaganza after Singles's Day on Nov 11 in China, but for some shoppers, their cart is not full of fancy clothes or electronic gadgets, but intellectual property (IP).

Wtoip.com, an IP exchange, is using the day to offer entrepreneurs discounted intellectual property services, earning the event the name "IP-Aware Festival."

Wtoip.com has been described as the Uber for intellectual property, as it connects vendors with registered IP resources with startups in the market to buy. Firms or individuals interested in robotics, for example, need only search for the term and select the desired patents they want to buy.

"Just like all other assets, IP can be a tradable commodity -- by commercializing IP and creating a free exchange market for it, we can maximize its value and ensure resources are allocated to where they are needed the most," said Zheng Ziqun, co-founder and vice president of WTOIP.

As China shifts toward an innovation-driven economy, it is becoming more pressing for firms to be IP-aware, and businesses such as WTOIP are looking to profit from this shift.

According to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), China's patent office received over 1.1 million filings in 2015, the first office in the world to receive over a million applications in a single year. Trademark and industrial design applications filed in China also beat all other countries.

WTOIP recently co-hosted a conference with the incubator IP-aware Valley. At the conference, startups and entrepreneurs were busy networking with local IP authorities and IP holders.

"It is a common misconception that Chinese companies don't respect IP as much as their foreign counterparts," said Xu Zhihong, vice director of CCE Oasis Technology Corp., a private clean energy firm.

"As China secures a larger share of the global market, domestic companies must work to international standards, IP protection is one of these standards," said Xu.

Xu said his company will sell their own patents on wtoip.com as well as use the platform to find patents that fit their needs.

So far, WTOIP has over 3 million registered IP resources including patents and trademarks, and generated turnover of 5 billion yuan (about $724 million) in 2016, 10 percent from international IP transfers.

On Dec 12 alone, total turnover was around 300 million yuan, according to WTOIP. While this is mere peanuts when compared with the 120.7 billion yuan made by Alibaba on Single's Day, Zheng Ziqun said the "IP shopping extravaganza" is more of a symbolic event.

"We want to send a clear message: you could turn a profit simply by selling things online in the past, but if you want to survive the next decade, you have to be IP-aware." Zheng said.

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