Lauterbach Development Solutions was founded in 1979 in Munich. Since then the company has developed into the largest manufacturer of microprocessor development tools and installed over 80.000 debuggers worldwide. The company has a manufacturing plant in Suzhou and encountered infringement of their debugging devices in 2008.
In 2008, three years after its arrival in China, Lauterbach realised that their flagship product was being copied and sold on the Chinese market. The infringer had even copied Lauterbach’s website and business cards. Tom Meyer, Lauterbach’s general manager in China says: “With the help of a reputable lawyer from Beijing we sent a powerful cease and desist letter. The infringer withdrew from the domain name, but came back two months later. Of course we weren’t happy with it, but we also thought infringement was a part of the Chinese business environment.”
When Tom attended a Helpdesk seminar in Suzhou in 2010 about IP enforcement, he got a better understanding of how this infringement should be dealt with. Lauterbach started to work with a local Suzhou-based law firm specialized in China IP: “We found out that our previous distributor registered some of our product names, but in different classes. We registered our logo, our company name and the copyright for both the software and hardware in the right classes”, Tom continues.
“I estimate we invested approximately €2,700 in stopping the infringement, including all the registrations and the costs of a raid action. I would say our return on investment was an increase of revenue by 20-25%.” Tom adds that Lauterbach finally managed to get rid of 95% of the copies, and now works profitably and with peace of mind.
Tom advises other European SMEs to work with local specialised law firms, and strongly recommends registering all IP: “To me, the key to success are registrations – rather too many, than too few. Registrations here in China are relatively inexpensive and easy to obtain.”
- Register your IP in China – the process may be easier than you think.
- Use a local lawyer to inform and assist you, as they know the local business environment and regulations best.
- Don’t be afraid to enforce your rights, China’s IP legislative system is developed and the authorities can assist you.
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