The news this morning that New Zealand trade officials have signed a deal with China’s Alibaba Group, is great for New Zealand businesses entering China’s burgeoning consumer market.

Prime Minister, John Key, and Alibaba’s chairman, Jack Ma, signed a memorandum of understanding enabling local producers and manufacturers in New Zealand to access Chinese consumers by leveraging services and platforms offered by Alibaba.

Jack Ma proposes to set up training courses for New Zealand businesses to learn how to sell product in China.

The importance of intellectual property (IP) protection, particularly registering one’s trade marks, must not be lost in the bright lights of this new venture.

Remember: China is a first-to-register country when it comes to trade mark protection.  Simply using a trade Mark in China without first registering your trade mark there, doesn’t give your company any rights.

Please: As soon as the germ of an idea of exporting product to China enters your mind, apply to register your trade mark there.

You don’t want the scenario that has faced so many naïve businesses all around the world, where you are blocked from using your valuable trade mark in China, or find you have to buy back the trade mark registration for exorbitant amounts of money.