Saturday, 23 May 2015

HK leads in mediation, IP trading

Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen

It is my great pleasure to welcome you all to this Intellectual Property Mediation Seminar jointly organised by the Department of Justice and the Intellectual Property Department.

 

Over the years, different institutes and organisations have organised countless seminars and workshops concerning mediation. This seminar, as far as we reckon, is the very first seminar in Hong Kong focusing solely on evaluative mediation for resolving intellectual property, or IP, disputes. Let me briefly explain why the Department of Justice and the Intellectual Property Department find it desirable and appropriate to make this breakthrough.

 

The first reason is a matter of policies. To be more precise, it is a marriage of two important policies of the Hong Kong SAR Government, namely, the policy to enhance Hong Kong's status as a leading centre for international legal and dispute resolution services in the Asia Pacific region, and also the policy to reinforce Hong Kong's role as a premier IP trading hub in the region.

 

In the course of searching for new areas of development, the Steering Committee on Mediation sees the potential synergy in marrying these two policies. We believe mediation, including evaluative mediation, can be an appropriate and effective means of resolving IP disputes. In this regard, the Working Group on Intellectual Property Trading shares our view. In its recently published report, the Working Group highlighted the need to promote the use of mediation as a means to resolve IP disputes and also the desirability to explore the use of evaluative mediation in addition to facilitative mediation.

 

The second reason is one of huge market potentials.

 

IP applications proliferate

In the past decades or so, Asian companies have become more acutely aware of the commercial value and importance of IP protection. Asia is currently the fastest-growing region in the world in terms of the number of IP applications. Besides, the growing number of government agencies and industry multipliers from Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Taiwan and Thailand are bringing more innovative and original IPs from Asia as well as fostering the development of IP trading in the region.

 

There is also the China factor. Hong Kong has long been serving as a strategic gateway to the Mainland market, not just for trade and investment but also for ideas and innovations. In addition, the Central People's Government has been constantly introducing new measures to diversify the country's economic growth. The National 12th Five-Year Plan commits to transforming China's rich cultural heritage into a "pillar" industry for the country.

 

We accordingly see more and more efforts made by the relevant Mainland authorities in this direction. One recent example is the fact that the Ministry of Culture sent, for the very first time, a delegation of 40 Mainland culture-related enterprises to take part in the Asian Licensing Conference held in Hong Kong in January this year, which is the largest conference of its kind in Asia, seeking to export their intellectual properties relating to indigenous and profound culture and creations.

 

Services demand rising

Such examples of expanding demand for licensing in the Mainland will naturally boost the demand for incidental services in Hong Kong, including dispute resolution services such as mediation.

 

Of course, we should not forget the domestic market in Hong Kong. Indeed, many industries in Hong Kong are actual or potential users of IP mediation services. Take the example of the toy industry. Hong Kong enjoys a good reputation as an international supplier of toys and a global centre for toy product design, production planning, marketing and management. Just for the period from January to October 2014, Hong Kong's total toy exports amounted to more than US$5.4 billion.

 

A recent trend in the Hong Kong toy industry is the growing interest in and demand for licensed products. This is because Hong Kong toy exporters are increasingly producing high-quality toys with overseas industry giants and licence holders. This trend means that the number of licence disputes is likely to increase, and that licence disputes is one of the types of IP disputes that are suitable to be resolved by mediation, including evaluative mediation.

 

This brings me to the third reason, namely, mediation, including evaluative mediation, can in appropriate circumstances be an effective means to resolve IP disputes.

 

Mediation can resolve global disputes

A recent court judgment handed down recently concerning a dispute over a famous trademark, it was revealed that the parties had been engaged in trademark litigations and disputes against each other in places outside Hong Kong for over 10 years. Not only is this case illustrative of how protracted IP litigation can be, it also shows how proceedings could proliferate in multi-jurisdictions, not to mention the substantial legal costs that would have to be incurred.

 

For multi-jurisdictions and cross-border IP disputes, mediation provides an opportunity for the dispute to be resolved globally and saves the parties the trouble to take the disputes to the courts in all the relevant jurisdictions.

 

Further, it is pertinent to note that mediation has been widely used by the World Intellectual Property Organisation, or WIPO, in resolving IP disputes. The mediation cases so far administered by the WIPO Centre cover a wide range of subject matters, including disputes concerning artistic production finance agreements, art marketing agreements, information technology agreements and trademark licensing agreements.

 

On the whole, we have no doubt that mediation is a suitable means for resolving IP disputes. It is against this background that we see fit to take one step further to consider what types of mediation would be best suitable for resolving IP disputes.

 

Evaluative meditation a fresh option

While facilitative mediation, which is the most common type of mediation used in Hong Kong, is a possible candidate in appropriate cases, we also see the potential and advantages of using evaluative mediation when the nature of the disputes calls for an evaluation of the issues involved, such as cases involving disputes over IP rights as well as cases involving complex or technical issues.

 

In short, the promotion of evaluative mediation is to offer an additional option, on top of facilitative mediation, to the end users in the IP field so that they can consider which type of mediation can best serve their needs. In other words, we are not seeking to diminish the importance of facilitative mediation. Instead, we only want to provide more choices for the end users.

 

It is for this reason that we have, for the purpose of today, invited Professor Nadja Alexander, an internationally renowned expert on mediation, to introduce the concept of evaluative mediation. In addition, we have arranged a mock evaluative mediation to demonstrate how it can be used to resolve IP disputes.

 

As I said earlier, this seminar is the first of its kind in Hong Kong. I can guarantee that this will not be the last. Indeed, IP disputes is one of the key areas which the Department of Justice will be focusing on in our future promotion of mediation and arbitration. Further promotion activities will be launched in the future, and we welcome views from all the stakeholders so that we can better serve your needs.

 

Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen gave these remarks at the IP Mediation Workshop - An Evaluative Approach, jointly organised by the Department of Justice and the Intellectual Property Department.


Regards,
Otmane El Rhazi
Department of Commerce
Economic Development
Text/Mobile, +44 7414 782 320

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Multi-pronged strategy to tackle land shortage

Financial Secretary John Tsang

It is my great pleasure to join you all today for the Annual Conference of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors Hong Kong, highlighting the theme "Building Hong Kong's Capacity for Sustainable Growth - What can be done to stay competitive?" There is one word in this year's theme, in particular, that has caught my attention.

 

That word is "capacity", and the basic definition of this meaningful word actually goes all the way back to the Middle Ages. It is defined as "the maximum amount that something can hold or produce".

 

In Hong Kong, that "maximum" is restricted by our size; in area, we count just around 1,100 square kilometres. While the built up area accounts for less than one-quarter of our total land mass, the remaining land resources, I was told by KK and his people in the Planning Department, are mainly woodland, grassland, wetland, barren land, water bodies, country parks, special conservation areas, remote areas, outlying islands, steep slopes and other land categories that are not quite suitable for development.

 

That is the land card that we have been dealt. It is not going to change. We have to work with what we have.

 

That's where the other major definition of "capacity" comes in; and that is "the ability and power to do something".

 

In that regard, Hong Kong is as big, as capacious, as all Asia - and then some. Over the years and decades, the people of Hong Kong have shown that there is little that we cannot accomplish.

 

Today's focus is on creating sustainable growth - on what we can do to stay competitive. And that is what I would like to share with you in the next few minutes.

 

As I said in my Budget Speech earlier this year, I want to capitalise on Hong Kong's strengths, to explore new ideas in ensuring the health of our long-term economic development.

 

Land shortage is a long-standing issue in Hong Kong. It is a major constraint which adversely affects our economic competitiveness. To overcome this hurdle that is standing in our way, we are pressing ahead with a multi-pronged land-supply strategy.

 

Maximising land use

We are maximising the use of the limited land supply that we have by taking forward ambitious land-use planning and development projects that include the Kai Tak Development and the West Kowloon Cultural District in the urban area, as well as the North East New Territories New Development Areas, the Hung Shui Kiu New Development Area and the Tung Chung New Town Extension in the rural area. Just to mention a few.

 

We have applied co-ordinated planning to these large-scale projects, each involving tens to hundreds of hectares of land, striking an optimal balance between increasing land supply for residential and economic activities as well as improving the quality of the urbanised environment.

 

Apart from large development areas, we are also reviewing the planning intention of individual sites to allow more beneficial uses that better meet community priorities. These include sites of obsolete government premises, deserted or de-vegetated green belt sites and under-utilised industrial buildings.

 

Through these intensive search exercises, we have identified more than 60 sites that are suitable for residential use. After the statutory rezoning process that could take some time, they provide a total area of over 100 hectares, capable of producing more than 55,000 residential units. We are continuing with these efforts.

 

In addition, Kowloon East is now transforming from an industrial district into another core business district. It has the potential to supply office floor area of four million square metres, which is twice the current size of Central. Major commercial and retail nodes will also be available in the Kai Tak Development, and the North Commercial District on the airport island.

 

Given the scarcity of land supply in Hong Kong, we should make full use of land available. We are seeking to increase development intensity of individual sites, taking into consideration practical needs such as traffic capacity, environmental, visual and air ventilation impacts of the neighbourhood.

 

All these aside, as a long-term vision, the Government is studying the feasibility of the East Lantau Metropolis concept. Geographically, it is close to our central business district on Hong Kong Island. More than locational advantages, it boasts strategic transport infrastructure. Indeed, it has the potential to rise as a new urban centre for the future.

 

Infrastructure investment

You are probably aware that the World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness Report has ranked Hong Kong first in infrastructure for five consecutive years. We are continuing to invest heavily to upgrade our infrastructure. It is worth noting that when keeping price levels constant, current construction expenditure, which is quite high close to $80 billion this year, is only about 80% of that of the Airport Core Programme era in the 1990s.

 

Our infrastructure, in particular transport infrastructure, is not just an engineering achievement that we should all be proud of. It is also at the centre of our sustainability development strategy.

 

Our high-density developments are mainly connected by railway, which is an efficient, low-carbon mode of public transportation. This greatly reduces the demand for private cars, thereby minimising fuel consumption and emissions. You should not be too surprised to know that Hong Kong, on a per-capita basis, has one of the lowest transportation carbon footprints in the world.

 

The West Island Line is now fully opened. Four other lines are under active construction. When completed, more than 70% of our population will be within the catchment of our railway network. Last September, the Government released its Railway Development Strategy 2014, which provides a blueprint for the further expansion of Hong Kong's railway network.

 

Sustainable development

There is huge potential, too, in sustainable development through the construction of green buildings. To promote green building, the Government is offering developers gross floor area concessions in new buildings - if they incorporate sustainable design elements and provide related information.

 

Benchmarks have been set under the Buildings Energy Efficiency Ordinance. There are also energy-efficiency design standards for key building-services installations. And commercial buildings are required to conduct energy audits.

 

We are leading by example. The Government has released a comprehensive, target-based environmental performance framework for new and existing government buildings. New government buildings with a construction floor area of more than 10,000 square metres must achieve one of the two highest ratings in BEAM Plus.

 

To become "Energy Aware" and "Energy Wise", energy saving will need to have a centre-stage role not only in government policy, but also in how businesses operate and how individuals live.

 

The Environment Bureau has recently published an Energy Saving Plan for Hong Kong's Built Environment which sets for Hong Kong our own target for reducing energy intensity by 40% by the year 2025. It shows our commitment to environmental protection, and to drive energy saving through a combination of measures, especially for buildings and inhabitants, to become highly energy efficient.

 

Beyond some of the specific responses I have outlined so far today, we are also updating Hong Kong's territorial development strategy. And the Director of Planning will tell you more about this - specifically about "Hong Kong 2030 Plus" - in just a few moments.

 

Ladies and gentlemen, yes, we have our fair share of constraints right here in Hong Kong. And we are, indeed, facing a great number of challenges. But I am confident that we do have the capacity to meet our constraints and challenges head-on. Today's conference - and each and every one of you - will, I am sure, help move Hong Kong along towards a prosperous and sustainable future.

 

Financial Secretary John Tsang gave these remarks at the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors Hong Kong Annual Conference 2015 on May 21.


Regards,
Otmane El Rhazi
Department of Commerce
Economic Development
Text/Mobile, +44 7414 782 320

Gov't providing accurate submissions

Chief Secretary Carrie Lam

With the ever-growing elderly population, the Government strives to implement a series of measures to strengthen elderly services on all fronts. The resources committed by the Government to elderly care welfare services have continued to increase in the past years. The relevant recurrent government expenditure has increased from around $3.9 billion in 2010-11 to about $6.8 billion in 2015-16, representing an increase of 73.6%.

 

In line with the policy of promoting "ageing in place as the core, institutional care as back-up", the Government has been making strenuous effort in strengthening the provision of various types of subsidised community care and support services. For home care services, all of the 1,666 additional Enhanced Home & Community Care Services places will have commenced service in June 2015. At the same time, the service content of all Enhanced Home & Community Care Services places has been strengthened. In addition, the Social Welfare Department is implementing the Pilot Scheme on Community Care Service Voucher for the Elderly, which adopts a "money-following-the-user" approach. The Social Welfare Department will take into account the findings of the mid-term review of the Pilot Scheme and work out the details of the next phase.

 

The funding allocation for subsidised community care and support services in 2015-16 is estimated to reach $2.33 billion, representing an increase of around 14.5% over the provision for last year. From 2015-16 to 2016-17, it is estimated that some 100 new day care places could commence service. The Social Welfare Department has also earmarked sites in eight development projects for the construction of day care centres/units for the elderly, providing an estimated total of 370 additional day care places. In addition, the Social Welfare Department will make flexible use of day care places to serve elderly persons living in districts with longer waiting time through cross-district arrangement.

 

For elderly persons who are not suitable for ageing at home owing to their health conditions or other reasons, the Government will continue to increase the provision of residential care places through a multi-pronged approach. In 2015-16, resources committed by the Government to providing subsidised residential care services will reach $4.26 billion, representing an increase of some 8.4% over the provision for last year. Around 1,710 additional subsidised residential care places for the elderly will be put to operational use between 2014-15 and 2017-18. Social Welfare Department has also earmarked sites in 11 development projects for the construction of new residential care homes for the elderly to provide about 1,200 new residential care places for the elderly. In addition, the Government has commissioned the Elderly Commission to conduct a feasibility study of the voucher scheme on residential care services for the elderly adopting the "money-following-the-user" approach with a view to better utilising the residential care places at non-subsidised residential care homes for the elderly and providing incentives for these residential care homes for the elderly to improve their service quality. In this regard, the Government has earmarked about $800 million to issue a total of 3,000 residential care service vouchers by phases over three years from 2015-16 to 2017-18. In the meantime, the Government will continue to identify suitable sites for constructing more contract residential care homes for the elderly.

 

For the medium to long term, the Government injected $10 billion into the Lotteries Fund in early 2014 to facilitate the implementation of the Special Scheme on Privately Owned Sites for Welfare Uses by the Labour & Welfare Bureau. It aims to better utilise the sites granted to non-governmental organisations through expansion and redevelopment, with a view to providing more residential care places and day care places for the elderly as well as rehabilitation facilities which are in great demand. The Scheme has received positive responses from over 40 organisations, involving more than 60 projects. If all these projects could be implemented as proposed by the organisations, as many as 17,000 additional service places would be provided for the elderly and persons with disabilities, including around 7,000 residential care places and 2,000 day care places for the elderly.

 

The Government agrees that effective measures should be taken to improve the service matching and allocation mechanism for subsidised elderly care services. The Social Welfare Department has commissioned a consultancy study to update the assessment tool of the Standardised Care Need Assessment Mechanism for Elderly Services. The updating process is expected to be completed by 2016. This will help the Social Welfare Department suitably allocate long-term care services in accordance with the need and urgency of the elderly applicants.

 

The Government agrees that there is a need to expedite the long-term care services planning for the elderly in the face of the immense challenges posed by our rapidly ageing population. As announced by the Chief Executive in his 2014 Policy Address, the Elderly Commission is tasked with the formulation of the Elderly Services Programme Plan. The Elderly Commission is now actively taking forward the task, including the organisation of public engagement activities, and is expected to submit its report to the Government in mid-2016.

 

Health services

On the provision of health services for the elderly, the Government generally welcomes and accepts the recommendations made by the Audit Commission (Audit) and the Public Accounts Committee of the LegCo on the health services for the elderly provided by the Department of Health and the Hospital Authority.

 

Adopting the family medicine approach which emphasises holistic care, continuity, teamwork and multi-disciplinary input, Elderly Health Centres provide comprehensive primary health care to the elderly. The Government notes members' concerns over the long waiting time for first-time health assessments, and will review and monitor the workload of each Elderly Health Centres with a view to implementing measures to enhance service efficiency and shorten waiting time.

 

The Public Accounts Committee recommends the Department of Health conduct a comprehensive review of Elderly Health Centres' mode of operation to better cope with the growth in service demand arising from an ageing population. The Department of Health has been reviewing the service capacity and mode of operation of Elderly Health Centres from time to time, and will follow up the Audit's recommendation for improvement. Nevertheless, the service of Elderly Health Centres alone would not be able to fully meet the challenges of growing demand for elderly healthcare services arising from the ageing population. Therefore, the Government should adopt a multi-pronged approach to provide primary healthcare service for the elderly by implementing different initiatives and service models. To this end, we have mapped out a long-term primary care development strategy and implemented a number of measures and pilot projects on different primary care delivery models for elderly health services in the past few years, such as the Elderly Health Care Voucher Scheme and the Elderly Health Assessment Pilot Programme. The Department of Health will review the Elderly Health Centres' capacity and strategic directions in the light of the experience gained through these new models of service provision. A comprehensive review of the Elderly Health Care Voucher Scheme will be conducted in mid-2015 and an evaluation of the implementation of the Elderly Health Assessment Pilot Programme will be completed by end-2015/early 2016.

 

Meanwhile, the Department of Health will continue to promote these programmes to the elderly and explore different ways to encourage participation of healthcare service providers in the Elderly Health Care Voucher Scheme as well as strengthen monitoring measures to ensure proper use of public fund.

 

The Hospital Authority is committed to providing quality health services to the public (including the elderly). We understand the public's concerns over the waiting time at the specialist outpatient clinics. Hospital Authority has already implemented further measures to improve the relevant services. These measures include:
(a) enhancing public primary care service;
(b) strengthening manpower;
(c) implementing public-private partnership;
(d) enhancing transparency by uploading the waiting time information of all eight major specialties to the Hospital Authority 's website;
(e) implementing arrangement to facilitate cross-cluster appointment booking for consultation; and,
(f) improving the appointment scheduling arrangement.

 

Moreover, the Hospital Authority has in recent years extended the Community Geriatric Assessment Service, now covering around 89% residential care homes for the elderly in the territory. The Hospital Authority will continue to review the service model and provision of Community Geriatric Assessment Service and consider providing the service to more residential care homes for the elderly as appropriate.

 

New aviation HQ

The Government attaches great importance to the observations and recommendations set out in the reports of the Audit and the Public Accounts Committee regarding the new Civil Aviation Department headquarters project. The Civil Aviation Department and the Architectural Services Department have implemented various measures to enhance internal control and alerted their staff to the experience and lessons learnt from the audit findings.

 

The objective of developing a new Civil Aviation Department headquarters is to bring all operational divisions of the Civil Aviation Department under one roof and to house the new air traffic control system. The project aims to enhance the Department's overall operational efficiency and capability in handling air traffic management, so as to cope with the continued growth of air traffic volume and further strengthen Hong Kong's status as an international and regional aviation hub.

 

Although the new headquarters project largely meets the needs of Civil Aviation Department and it was completed within the contract period and within budget, there were indeed areas not properly handled by Civil Aviation Department during implementation of the project. We are particularly concerned about the deviations from the Government's internal procedures and requirements during the implementation of the project as pointed out in the Audit Report. As such, the Transport & Housing Bureau is examining the report submitted by the Director-General of Civil Aviation. If any misconduct is found, the Government will follow up the case in accordance with the established procedures, including taking appropriate administrative or disciplinary action. As for Public Accounts Committee's wish to know the contents of the report and the follow-up actions to be taken by the Transport & Housing Bureau, as mentioned in the speech of the Chairman of Public Accounts Committee, the Government will actively respond to such request.

 

To ensure proper use of public funds, the Government has established mechanisms to govern implementation of capital works projects including the requirement to seek approval for the schedule of accommodation and procurement of furniture and equipment items. The said mechanisms are detailed in the government internal guidelines and circulars for the compliance by and reference of all government departments.

 

The Government will continue to strive to submit accurate information to the LegCo to facilitate Members' consideration of government funding proposals. The Government has promulgated internal circular setting out issues which government departments need to pay attention to when preparing relevant submissions to the panels, Public Works Subcommittee and Finance Committee of LegCo. The first and foremost principle is that full and accurate information should be provided to LegCo. With regard to the recommendations of the Audit and Public Accounts Committee, the Transport & Housing Bureau has promulgated a circular to departments under its purview, requesting them to regularly remind subject officers of the need to provide up-to-date information when preparing LegCo submissions. The Civil Aviation Department has also updated the departmental handbook and informed staff of the need to submit full information to LegCo.

 

This is a translation of the speech given by Chief Secretary Carrie Lam in the Legislative Council on May 20.


Regards,
Otmane El Rhazi
Department of Commerce
Economic Development
Text/Mobile, +44 7414 782 320