Director General Zhang Zhicheng [Protection and Coordination
Department, State Intellectual Property Office of the People’s
Republic of China], Mr Andrew Liao SC, Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
First of all, on behalf of the Department of Justice, may I
extend our warmest welcome to all of you for joining this session
on “International IP Dispute Resolution – A New Chapter for
2. In front of this audience, I do not think I need to explain
the importance of intellectual property (“IP”). Nowadays, IP is
directly or indirectly involved in virtually all aspects of our daily
life as well as in industrial and commercial activities at both the
domestic and international level. It is therefore not surprising,
and as confirmed by the World Intellectual Property Indicators
2017 Report 1
just issued by the World Intellectual Property
Organization (“WIPO”) yesterday, worldwide filings for patents,
trademarks and industrial designs reached record heights in 2016
amid dramatic demand in China, which received more patent
applications than the combined total for the USA, Japan, the
Republic of Korea and the European Patent Office. Indeed in
Mainland alone, applications filed increased from 18,700 in 1995
to 1.3 million in 2016, amounting to average annual growth of
23%. Such upsurge of IP activities has understandably, if not
inevitably, led to an increase in the number of IP disputes.
3. The protection of IP rights on a regional or global basis is
no easy task. While many jurisdictions have specialist IP courts,
some jurisdictions lack the expertise to properly handle IP
disputes. Of course, there are also inherent difficulties in
pursuing court proceedings in multiple jurisdictions, whether due
to differences in legal systems or difficulties in enforcing court
judgments in foreign jurisdiction. As experience reveals, crossborder
IP litigations are often time-consuming and costly, and the
outcome might not always be the most desirable result even from
the winning parties’ perspective.
4. Against this background, various jurisdictions have taken
steps to promote international arbitration and cross-border
mediation as a means of resolving IP disputes. In this regard,
Hong Kong, if I may venture to suggest, stay at the forefront of
5. The main theme of this session concerns international IP
dispute resolution and the latest development in Hong Kong.
May I say a few words on these two aspects.
6. The popularity of arbitration is confirmed by the findings
of the 2016 International Dispute Resolution Survey conducted by
the Queen Mary University of London 2
. About 92% of the
respondents agreed that international arbitration is well-suited for
resolving technology, media and telecoms disputes, whilst more
than 80% of the respondents believed that there will be an
increase in the use of international arbitration to resolve these
three types of disputes3
7. The general advantages of international arbitration are
well-known. May I highlight some of the considerations which
are most pertinent to this session.
8. Apart from our modern arbitration legislative framework,
Hong Kong is well known for its top quality independent
Judiciary which adopts a pro-arbitration approach. Not only is our
Judiciary arbitration-friendly, it adopts a pro-enforcement
approach and fully respects the concept of party autonomy.
9. Under the “one country, two systems” policy, Hong Kong
as a special administrative region of China enjoys the best of both
worlds and remains a common law jurisdiction which steadfastly
upholds the rule of law. This explains why Hong Kong is an ideal
neutral forum for resolving international disputes (including IP
disputes). In this regard, a leading UK judge in a recent court
decision described Hong Kong as follows: “…whilst Hong Kong
is no doubt geographically convenient, it is also a well known and
respected arbitration forum with a reputation for neutrality, not
least because of its supervising courts 4
10. Apart from choice of arbitral rules and venue, one of the
important aspects of party autonomy is the parties’ freedom to
choose the right experts to act as arbitrators. This freedom of
choice, which is not available if parties resort to court litigation, is
of particular importance in the context of IP disputes. Hong Kong
has many years of experience in developing IP law and protecting
IP rights. Hence, Hong Kong has an extensive pool of IP
specialists who are well equipped to deal with different types of
IP disputes. In the specific context of IP arbitration and with a
view to assisting parties on choice of arbitrators, the Hong Kong
International Arbitration Centre has established a panel of
experienced international arbitrators who specialise in resolving
IP disputes. The arbitrators on that panel speak a total of 14
different languages and practise from 17 different jurisdictions.
11. In this globalised world, another important attribute of
international arbitration is that it can enable parties to resolve
multi-jurisdictions IP disputes in a single forum in a cost-effective
manner. Further, compared to court proceedings which are
generally open to public, confidentiality of arbitral proceedings
and arbitral awards are particularly relevant if the technology
concerned is sensitive or at a developmental stage.
12. Let me move on to the latest development in Hong Kong.
In short, Hong Kong is entering a new chapter for international IP
dispute resolution. To facilitate the resolution of IP disputes
through arbitration in Hong Kong, the Arbitration (Amendment)
Ordinance 2017 introduces a new Part 11A to the Arbitration
Ordinance (Cap. 609) to clarify that all IP disputes (whether
within or outside Hong Kong) can be resolved through arbitration,
and that IP arbitral awards can be enforced in Hong Kong. In
addition, to facilitate the resolution of international IP disputes in
Hong Kong, the respective definitions of “intellectual property
rights” and “intellectual property rights disputes” under the
amended Ordinance have a broad coverage and include an IP
right whether or not it is protectable by registration and whether
or not it is registered in Hong Kong. This amendment will come
into effect on 1 January 2018 and will apply to arbitral
proceedings commencing on or after that date 5
. Our expert,
Mr Andrew Liao, SC, will tell you more about this development
later this afternoon.
13. The Government of Hong Kong SAR is also committed to
developing and promoting the wider use of mediation to resolve
cross-border commercial disputes including IP disputes.
Mediation is particularly suitable to resolve IP disputes which
usually involve sensitive technologies, know-how and trade
secrets while at the same time more conducive to preserving
business relationship of the parties.
14. As mediation is a highly flexible process, it can enable
parties to resolve IP disputes in all the relevant jurisdictions
concerned in one set of mediation. This means that mediation is
particularly suitable for multi-jurisdiction IP disputes involving
different systems of governing laws. According to the figures of
, the settlement rate for cases going to mediation in its
WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center is almost 70%.
15. Mediation in many jurisdictions are facilitative in nature.
However, there is a growing demand for evaluative mediation. In
response to this market demand, a Special Committee on
Evaluative Mediation has recently been formed under the Steering
Committee on Mediation. This Special Committee will conduct
studies and make recommendations so as to enhance the use of
evaluative mediation in Hong Kong. The aim is to provide parties
an additional choice of dispute resolution mechanism so that they
can decide which mechanism can best cater for their needs.
16. Given the volume of IP trade in the region and Hong
Kong’s position as the springboard to the Mainland, our
experienced IP practitioners are ready and able to provide topquality
international legal and dispute resolution services. Further
and greater need for such services is expected under the Belt and
Road Initiative and the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Bay Area
(“Bay Area”) development plan.
17. On 21 November 2017, the Hong Kong SAR Government
entered into an “Agreement on intellectual property co-operation
in the Pan-Pearl River Delta region in the context of the Belt and
with the Macau SAR Government and nine IP offices8
the Pan-Pearl River Delta region. This Co-operation Agreement
covers five areas. They include strengthening studies in IP policy,
laws and regulations, as well as exploring ways to enhance
exchange and co-operation in IP protection and enforcement9
18. Last month, the Intellectual Property Department, together
with stakeholders in the industry and the Department of Justice,
visited the Guangzhou Intellectual Property Arbitration Centre,
the Guangzhou Intellectual Property Court and the Guangzhou
Development District. The two sides agreed to further strengthen
collaboration between Guangdong and Hong Kong in the areas of
IP trading and dispute resolution in the Bay Area.
19. Ladies and Gentlemen, the various initiatives that I have
just outlined demonstrate Hong Kong’s firm commitment to
serving the Asia-Pacific region and beyond by acting as a leading
centre for resolving IP disputes in the Asia-Pacific region and
beyond. We welcome dialogues, exchanges and co-operation
with experts and stakeholders in the IP field.
20. On this note, I would like to express my gratitude to our
co-organiser, the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, as
well as all our speakers and moderators and also to thank you all
for attending this seminar.
21. Thank you.
2 2016 International Dispute Resolution Survey entitled “Pre-empting and Resolving
Technology, Media and Telecoms Disputes”, available at
3 Ibid, p.7
4 Shangang South-Asia (Hong Kong) Trading Co. Ltd v Daewoo Logistics  EWHC 194
(Comm), per Hamblen J (now Lord Justice Hamblen) at .
5 However, by virtue of the new Part 3 of Schedule 3, the new Part 11A is to apply to the
arbitration or any of its related proceedings if the parties to the arbitration or those related
proceedings (as appropriate) agree.
7The Co-operation Agreement aims to promote the continuous deepening of regional IP cooperation
and facilitate economic and cultural exchanges with countries and regions along
the Belt and Road, thereby fostering joint economic development in the Pan-PRD region.
8The nine IP offices in the Pan-PRD region represent the provinces/regions of Fujian, Jiangxi,
Hunan, Guangdong, Guangxi, Hainan, Sichuan, Guizhou and Yunnan.