In an exclusive interview with Asia IP, Huang Jing, the IP director at Qihoo 360 Technology says that Qihoo was first preparing to establish its legal department around 2011, when the company was going to enter the market. From then on, more professionals were recruited in regards with the IP affairs as the firm tried to strengthen its internal awareness of IP protection.
“The management team Qihoo valued intellectual property from the first moment, but we all know that IP is costly,” says Huang. “Every year we spend tens of millions on IP in patent applications and in protection of creation and innovation.” Accordingly, financing activities have brought Qihoo more money to help it invest in intellectual property.
Qihoo faces some 200 cases of IP litigation each year, says Huang. Because of the reputation of Qihoo as an IT company that is famous for internet security protection, many people automatically see the name as a sign of safety, which results in many other companies using the Qihoo name whenever they can. For example, Huang says that many iOS and Android apps and numerous software programs are found using the name 360, while having nothing to do with Qihoo. (Qihoo 360 uses the URL www.360. cn.) Theoretically, imitating technology is difficult, but because China is a manufacturing power, it is only a matter of time before some techniques are copied.
“If similar cases are found, we will take administrative and judicial measures to stop it,” Huang says.
“The challenges that high-tech companies are worldwide, even in European countries,” says Huang, adding that the problems the company faces in China face are more serious. The short history of China’s IP development is one of the reasons rightsholders have difficulty protecting their IP there, says Huang, who believes that China’s new IP Courts could help raise people’s awareness, but notes that it will take time to see the benefits.
Besides, he says, many small firms still believe in protecting their core technology in primitive and traditional ways rather than creating detailed plans for IP strategies. “Without effective IP strategies, those firms [will continue to face] infringements, and will be in disadvantaged positions when seeking legal protection."
Internet companies in China have made significant progress in creativity in business and technology. “[Companies] in China and in the US have cooperated in many ways for the better development of the internet. BAT, Qihoo, Xiaomi, etc., all of these firms file more than 1,000 patent applications annually, and by the end of 2015, more internet firms are expected to be listed as the [largest filers] of patent applications,” Huang says.