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High-tech companies across China are increasingly focusing on patent protection as they strive to raise the value of the "made-in-China" brand.
One such company is Beijing's Aigo Digital Technology Co Ltd, a leading IT specialist that focuses on portable data storage, digital players, digital cameras, computer components and information security solutions.
Aigo is dedicated to promoting homegrown brands on the international market, said Huang Jing, the company's intellectual property supervisor. He said owning proprietary intellectual property ensures a company remains competitive and increases the added value of its products.
"At the same time that the government is encouraging innovation to build an innovative nation, the companies, as a key force of innovation, must have a proper intellectual property strategy," Huang said.
Before the company starts developing a new product, its legal department researches trademarks and patents for similar technologies to avoid risk of infringement. In addition, it seeks to develop new technology by building on what has already been patented.
Aigo is the owner of more than 2,000 trademarks and 1,200 patents. It has registered trademarks in around 100 countries and applied for more than 30 patents overseas via the Patent Cooperation Treaty.
In the last year alone, four of its patents were granted in the United States, including the design of its Ge-Yao camera, which integrates elements of traditional Chinese porcelain.
As one of the very few Chinese digital camera makers that apply for international patents, Aigo has found that it is very difficult to acquire patents in places "where the digital camera technologies are monopolized", but it is much easier in Europe and the United States.
Huang added that China's patent examination work is "no less efficient" than in the advanced regions such as Europe, the US and Japan.
The company is also cooperating with leading global IP management agencies to protect its rights worldwide.
"China is one of the largest manufacturers and consumers in the world and an emerging innovative nation, too," said Huang. "China's protection of intellectual property rights will be a great contribution to the world."
Last year, the company won a lawsuit in China against international electronics giant Toshiba over the patent rights to USB Plus technology, which can theoretically transmit data six times faster than the commonly used USB 2.0 technology.
Aigo applied to patent that technology in 2006 in China and later in many countries overseas.
Huang estimated that more than 60 million laptop computers are using the technology without authorization from Aigo. Their manufacturers include most of the internationally known giants.
Aigo's victory in the suit got the attention of its foreign rivals, many of which sent high-ranking executives to talk about cooperation or licensing.
(China Daily 11/16/2012 page17)