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Best Case on Intellectual Property Empowers SMEs Innovation and Development --- Wujiang Sangshang 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 Small and Medium-sized Enterprises(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. Today, we are pleased to present the story of Wujiang Sangshang Silk Co., Ltd.

Tell us about your company and your products.

Wujiang Sangshang Silk Co., Ltd. is a high-end silk culture enterprise specialized in inheriting silk culture, adhering to original design, customization and cultural promotion. "Making articles around a piece of silk", the company insists on independent original design and research. Relying on the two major silk cultural brands of "SANGSHANG" and "CHIAYI", the company inherits and integrates five thousand years of fine silk skills with traditional culture, deeply explores innovative designs, introduces foreign design concepts, combines traditional culture with international elements and fashion trends, and forms a series of silk themed products, including intangible cultural China buttons (Chinese frogs), embroidery, handmade customized embroidered Cheongsam and various kinds of fine silk eye masks, silk face masks, home textiles, and clothing.

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

As a cultural enterprise with cultural and creative design as its core competitiveness, the company’s creative design and achievements directly affect the opening of market, while the infringement related to graphic design is often difficult to prevent. One of our biggest challenges at present is how to effectively defend against infringement and ensure that we gain the reasonable added value of creative design in the sale of our products. In this regard, while accelerating product updates and iteration, the company will also carry out IP protection with more standardized and reasonable authorization.

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

The company was established in 2009 and started from OEM clothing. With the brand "CHIAYI" founded in 2013, the new Chinese silk customized cheongsam service was launched. While winning the business and customer trust, we have already felt the contribution of IP to the added value of the products, and the commercial boosting effect of IP has become more and more obvious in the development, market operation and brand building of various cultural and creative products.

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

At present, the company and its sister companies have registered and applied nearly 1,000 pieces of IP every year. The company’s products have formed two copyright themed groups, including the annual silk cheongsam theme series, silk cultural creation and gift series, silk functional clothing and home textile series, silk intangible cultural heritage theme series, as well as various series of cultural element IP. The company has successively signed copyright agreements with various well-known original IP rights holders to promote the industrialization and marketization of copyright products. With the support of copyright protection, copyright-related products have generated tens of millions of RMB in revenue for the company, with annual sales accounting for over 87% of the company's total sales.

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

Thanks to the development of copyright industry policy and modern information technology engineering in China and Jiangsu Province, we are able to know and use the WIPO databases. The convenient and fast IP information search has given us a direct access to query and analyze various IP resources, thus ensuring that we do not unconsciously infringe on others when our own IP is not being infringed, making our creative creation and product design as good as it can be.

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

We are aware that the marketing of creativity is not a simple result of product visualization, but a brand development process based on creativity. This requires us to focus not only on the creative design of product series, but also to explore more towards the front end, grasping the theme, deconstructing the idea and building the elements, so that the road to marketing of creativity becomes more front-end.

Why it is important for SMEs to focus on IP?

At present, enterprises of a certain scale already have a good understanding of IPRs, but most SMEs, which currently make up the bulk of the domestic economy, are not sufficiently aware of IPR protection, and IPR infringement is mostly frequent among SMEs. In addition, the infringement of high-quality IP, which is often the core competency of SMEs, means that SMEs with poor risk tolerance may face significant losses that could jeopardise their subsequent development. Therefore, IPR protection for SMEs is essential.

What advice do you have for other SMEs when it comes to IP?

As a company that focuses on IP as its core competency, we recommend to value IP as a core asset, the lifeblood of the company and its corporate image, and to implement plans based on this concept.Only by raising awareness of IP can we prevent risks, which is the only way to obtain long-term and lasting revenue space and corporate development through high added value.

How would you like to see the IP system evolve?

We believe that under a very reasonable system, the future development of IP-related regimes is likely to have two key focuses.

Firstly, more attention will certainly be paid to the identification, regulation and protection of high-value IP, so as to better promote comprehensive social, technological and economic development through the promotion of high-value IP work.

Secondly, after achieving full coverage of protection in all fields, IP management will be carried out in a more refined manner through more information-based means, thus enabling IP to better serve the society.

What are your plans for the future?

As a cultural enterprise in the silk culture industry that relies heavily on IP, the company will further protect the full range of brand elements, design ideas, research and development processes, process innovations, production elements and operational records through IP management in the future. The company will be more proactive in cooperating with high-quality IP rights holders to carry out the industrialization of IP achievements and promote the company's development from an industry-trade enterprise carrying out cultural work to an industry-trade cultural enterprise.