Double 12 Day is another online shopping extravaganza for the Chinese, following November 11’s popular Single's Day. For some shoppers, their e-carts are not full of luxury garments and accessories or electronics, but intellectual property (“IP”). Wtoip.com, an IP exchange, is using the day, December 12, to offer entrepreneurs discounted intellectual property services, thereby garnering the name "IP-Aware Festival."
Wtoip.com has been described as the Uber for intellectual property, as it connects vendors with registered IP resources with startups in the market to buy. Firms or individuals interested in robotics, for example, need only search for the term and select the desired patents they want to buy. "Just like all other assets, IP can be a tradable commodity – by commercializing IP and creating a free exchange market for it, we can maximize its value and ensure resources are allocated to where they are needed the most," said Zheng Ziqun, co-founder and vice president of WTOIP.
As China shifts toward an innovation-driven economy, it is becoming increasingly pressing for firms to be IP-aware, and businesses, such as WTOIP, are looking to profit from this shift.
According to the World Intellectual Property Organization, China's patent office received the most patent applications of any country in the world. The national patent office processed over 1.1 million filings in 2015, making it the first office in the world to receive over a million applications in a single year. The volume of China-specific trademark and industrial design applications also topped all other countries.
"It is a common misconception that Chinese companies don't respect IP as much as their foreign counterparts," said Xu Zhihong, vice director of CCE Oasis Technology Corp., a private clean energy firm. "As China secures a larger share of the global market, domestic companies must work to international standards, IP protection is one of these standards," said Xu. Xu said his company will sell their own patents on wtoip.com as well as use the platform to find patents that fit their needs.
So far, WTOIP has over 3 million registered IP resources including patents and trademarks, and generated turnover of 5 billion yuan (about $724 million) in 2016, 10 percent from international IP transfers.
On December 12 alone, total turnover was around 300 million yuan, according to WTOIP. While this is mere peanuts when compared with the 120.7 billion yuan made by e-commerce giant, Alibaba on Single's Day, Zheng Ziqun said the "IP shopping extravaganza" is more of a symbolic event. "We want to send a clear message: you could turn a profit simply by selling things online in the past, but if you want to survive the next decade, you have to be IP-aware." Zheng said.