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UK IPO: meet our new man in Beijing

Rumours that the two giant pandas that arrived in the UK this week were in exchange for an IP attaché appear to be unfounded. Either way, Britain has its first IP rep abroad

The appointment of Tom Duke was announced today by Baroness Wilcox, the UK IP minister.

She also said that the UK and Chinese governments would have an "ongoing high-level dialogue" including annual meetings between senior staff. The dialogue would address promoting mutual trade and investment, practical ways to overcome IP issues and policies and procedures.

Wilcox said the two initiatives "are a real step forward in our relationship with China on IP matters".

Duke formerly headed the IP Centre at the EU Chamber of Commerce in South Korea. He speaks Mandarin as well as other Asian languages and has a degree in economics.

He attended the UK-China IP Symposium in London today, and not surprisingly rights owners were practically queuing up to introduce themselves to him. The Symposium was attended by senior officials from both countries, including SIPO Commissioner Tian Lipu and UK IPO Chief Executive John Alty, as well as Wilcox.

Duke's appointment was welcomed by those who spoke to Managing IP. "It's about time we had this sort of representation in China," said one copyright owner. "The US has been leading in this area for a long time."

He is travelling to Beijing shortly and will start work officially on December 14. He will be based in the British Embassy in Beijing.

The UK government is expected to appoint further IP attachés in other key developing trade partners soon. India is believed to be next on the list, followed by Brazil.

Today's Symposium was attended by business representatives, IP lawyers and government representatives. It was announced during the China Summit between UK Prime Minister David Cameron and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao in July this year.

Wilcox said it reflected the trade links between the two countries, and the fact that innovative Chinese businesses have begun to recognise the value of intellectual property. "We must ensure the international IP system supports such growth," she added.

This means building an efficient global patent system, supporting technology solutions to climate change and access to medicines, supporting international technology transfer and building capacity within businesses to exploit their intellectual property.

Topics discussed in the Symposium included patent, utility model, design and trade mark protection, enforcement in both countries and technology transfer.

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