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Best Case on How Intellectual Property Empowers SMEs Innovation and Development ---Suzhou
Taihu Snow Silk Co., Ltd.

WIPO has organized campaign events to celebrate the World Intellectual Property Day (WIPD) 2021, including the Case Studies on the use of IP for SMEs. WIPO Case Studies on the use of IP for SMES has received strong support and active participation, and the WIPO China Office (WOC) has received over 30 excellent SME cases recommended by Chinese partners. These case studies tell fascinating stories of Chinese SMEs using IP to turn their  ideas into business opportunities and generate value, and among which, the story of Guangzhou EHang Intelligence Technology Co., and Qingdao Aibo Detection Technology Co., Ltd had been published on WIPO website for global promotion. So what other outstanding companies have been "nominated" ? The WOC will introduce them one by one. Let's start today with the Suzhou Taihu Snow Silk Co., Ltd.

Suzhou Taihu Snow Silk Co., Ltd. (Taihu Snow Silk) is a listed silk company with characteristics of sericulture planting, scientific and technology R&D, cultural and creative design, production and sales as well as cultural tourism resources development. The company has been awarded the honorary titles of National Copyright Demonstration Unit, National High-tech Enterprise, China's Top Ten Silk Brands, Jiangsu Province Copyright Demonstration Unit, Jiangsu Province Santong Enterprise (same production line, same standard, same quality), Jiangsu Province Key Cultural and Technological Enterprise, Jiangsu Province Service-oriented Manufacturing Demonstration Enterprise, etc.

Taihu Snow Silk has a germ-free production base covering more than 10,000 square meters, integrating processing, production, design and sales.It is dedicated to providing premium and healthy silk products. Taihu Snow Silk inherits five-thousand-year of fine silk craftsmanship, combining with traditional culture and deeply exploring advanced technology. Besides, the company also brings in foreign design concepts, internationalizes and fashions traditional elements to create silk products with Chinese connotations and international standards.

What have been the biggest challenges you faced in bringing your idea to market?

IP ideas transformation is a systematic, comprehensive and meticulous work, especially in the early development stage, which requires huge effort and cost. The challenges are whether the creative achievements are closely linked to the whole market, whether the problems arising from actual production and operation can be overcome, and whether considerable economic benefits and social recognition can be obtained.

At what point did you realize IP could support your business?

Taihu Snow Silk was founded in 2006. After years of development and innovation, relyying on our own R&D team, we have developed a number of unique new products. It is thanks to these chic and innovative products that Taihu Snow Silk has quickly dveloped its own brand style and attracted a large number of loyal customers. With the increasing brand influence, a large number of copycats came into the market, which seriously damaged the company's interests, discouraged the enthusiasm of creators, and was not conducive to the development of the industry as a whole. We have gradually realised the importance of IP, and in 2014 we set up an IP work Leadership team to carry out intellectual property management in a comprehensive and systematic manner.

How are you using IP rights and how have they helped your business?

So far, Taihu Snow Silk has a total of 1,270 pieces of IP rights, including 3 invention patents, 39 utility model patents, 4 high-tech products, 1 new silk product in Jiangsu Province, 36 new enterprise silk products. The company has registered 1,095 copyright works, 101 domestic registered trademarks and 13 trademarks registered abroad, and we have carried out IP rights protection in all aspects.

Was it easy to get hold of the information you needed to secure IP rights?

Thanks to WIPO's global IP databases including Global Brand Database, Global Design Database, Patentscope and the WIPO Lex,  it is easy to find information on IP services and policies. By using these databases, we can retrieve the information we need on patents, brands and designs, as well as learn about IP laws around the world. These databases also support cross-language searching, graphical analysis, machine translation and other ancillary functions, thus greatly increasing the ease of access to IP-related information.

What are the main lessons you have learned from taking your idea to market?

We have learnt that it is vital for companies to focus on the global IP layout of their own products and develop overseas IP strategies so to  enhance their international competitiveness. In addition to ensuring the patent layout of core technologies, the protection of copyright works and design patents is an even more important part of being a home textile retailer. We need to develop one piece, register one piece and protect one piece to raise awareness of IPR protection.

We have also learned that companies should manage their risks well in advance and establish effective mechanisms to regularly monitor competitors' patents. Patent information allows us to analyse information on competitors' markets, technologies and legal frameworks.  

How would you like to see the IP system evolve?

Within the current IPR regime, the Chinese government has vigorously implemented the innovation-driven development strategy, increased its efforts in science and technology innovation and IPR protection, and provided policy support. Looking ahead, we also hope that the government will play an important role in IPR enforcement, so to make those who infringe IPRs liable for their infringements.

What are your plans for the future?

Taihu Snow Silk has always been committed to making silk products with Chinese connotation and international standards, and will focus on cultivating a number of new high-quality products with advanced technology, innovative design and brand representation, actively promoting and expanding the influence of the brand.

Taihu Snow Silk will gradually establish a sound IP management system and continually stimulate the creativity and enthusiasm of professional R&D staff and designers. We will actively protect IPRs and effectively transform the intellectual achievements of designers. all of these measures will not only protect the legitimate interests of the company, but also helps the R&D staff to maintain their enthusiasm for creativity, enabling the company's copyright creation to develop in a sustainable and healthy manner.

In the increasingly competitive silk industry, Taihu Snow Silk will continue to be market-oriented, focus on product structure adjustment, improve quality, enrich product categories, improve efficiency and expand exports, strengthen product innovation and technological transformation, and enhance the sense of innovation. We will actively promote various forms of industy-university-research institution cooperation, maintain long-term and stable cooperative relations with renowned universities and studios, promote the construction of an enterprise-based technological innovation system, cultivate a group of professional and technical personnel, create a number of technologies and products with independent IP rights, gradually improve the company’s own R&D, design and technology absorption capabilities, and enhance the core competitiveness of the company.