Major Speeches, Presentations and Press Releases

Speech by SCED at Hong Kong Licensing Awards 2015 and Asian Licensing Awards 2015 presentation ceremony (English only)

     Following is the speech by the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mr Gregory So, at the presentation ceremony of the Hong Kong Licensing Awards 2015 and the Asian Licensing Awards 2015 today (January 12):

Toby (Founding Chairman of the Asian Licensing Association and member of the Working Group on Intellectual Property Trading Dr Toby Chan), distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

     Good evening. I am excited to be here tonight to celebrate the achievements of our licensing professionals. I am particularly thrilled by the positive energy in this audience. I am glad to see everyone busting their chops to the benefit and best interest of Hong Kong. It is quite a contrary to the filibustering that we have been enduring in LegCo (Legislative Council) lately.

     Speaking of this ongoing debate of our Copyright (Amendment) Bill, it is in fact a good and important piece of legislation. The bill is intended to encourage and protect businesses which invest their time and talent in the creation of new material. And as you will all agree, IP (intellectual property) protection is a prerequisite to any form of IP businesses, including licensing.

     Licensing is indeed one of the most dynamic forms of IP trading. It enables flexible and diversified use of an IP right to exploit its economic value. It also facilitates collaborations and crossover which might not be possible through traditional means. Entertainment licensing, and particularly movie licensing, is a good case in point.

     Take Disney's animated film "Frozen" as an example. On top of a global box office record of about US$1.3 billion, the retail sales of its licensed merchandise such as toys, clothing, stationery, bedding and linen reached US$1 billion in 2014. "Frozen" even dethroned Barbie from top of the girls' wish list for the 2014 holiday season, ending the iconic doll's 11-year reign.

     The "Star Wars" series is another example that continues to fuel the licensing business. Worldwide merchandise sales for "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" is projected to be US$5 billion in 2016. And there are many business ventures inspired by the "Star Wars" movie, for example fashion retailer Forever 21 launching a limited edition apparel line, and local jeweller Chow Tai Fook introducing an exclusive gold and silver jewellery series.

     Turning back to Hong Kong, although we have yet to have a home-grown blockbuster on a similar scale of commercial success, our comics sector is flourishing with properties such as McMug, McDull and friends who have become household names in Hong Kong and Asia.

     Other comical characters such as Chocolate Rain, B.Duck and Mandycat are quickly becoming bankable properties as well, thanks to ingenious and versatile licensing arrangements that help expand their client base and tap into new markets worldwide.

     You may ask, "How do we help materialise the licensing opportunities in Hong Kong?" On this, I have personally reached out to different sectors to promote the idea of cross-sector IP trading.

     For example, the toy sector in Hong Kong, it has the reputation as an international supplier of high-quality toys and a global centre for toy product design, production planning, marketing and management. Competition remains keen nonetheless. In particular, the product life cycle of toys has shortened over the past decade.

     To remain competitive, I have been encouraging them to explore licensing as a platform to expand their businesses. By acquiring the user rights of, for example, popular movies, icons and animation characters through licensing, and applying them in the designs of products, these manufacturers can promptly and effectively attract more customers and tap into new markets within a short period of time.

     Over the past year, I have been working hard to link up different sectors for them to explore IP opportunities. Results have been very encouraging. Key players in the respective fields now realise the economic potential of their IP, and the prospects of cross-sector commercialisation through IP trading. We will continue to facilitate such crossover.

     Ladies and gentlemen, Hong Kong and Asia's licensing business will stand to benefit from our invigorated efforts. In this fast-changing global IP landscape, we need to sharpen our competitive edge, seize the opportunities proactively, and turn IP into sustainable business growth. With the concerted efforts of the Government and industry players, I am confident that we will harness the power of IP and make it bear fruit.

     May I take this opportunity to congratulate all the winners once again, and wish you all a very fruitful and prosperous year ahead.

Ends/Tuesday, January 12, 2016
Issued at HKT 18:38