Interview with Hao Yan, IP Manager of Morris Garages Branch of SAIC Motor Corporation Limited

By Lilian Li, China IP,[Comprehensive Reports]

Pursuing Progress in IP Industry with a Beginner's Mind and Passion
On April 26 in a certain year, Hao Yan received wishes from an American lawyer, of which the card wrote "You are doomed to be IP person!" Her birthday date is also World Intellectual Property Day of the year. 13 years ago, Hao Yan as a science and engineering graduate stepped into the IP industry and became an IP person. Since then, her birthday was given a new connotation, and she always recalls this experience to be her destiny.
13-year regretless persistence out of passion
Hao Yan's first job after graduation was as an electrical engineer, which only required her to delve into technology with single-hearted devotion. Even so many years after the career change, she still recalls and cherishes this experience, "Until today, I value every opportunity to communicate with engineers and I'm pleased to share the most basic concept of patent with engineers, of which the habit was formed into at that time when I was an engineer." Besides, as Hao Yan told China IP, that "lonely" work also got her the access to the IP industry. "I was in charge of the DC storage battery system when I worked as an electrical engineer. During the process of choosing equipment and evaluating functions, I found there were many limits set by foreign suppliers in the aspect of standards, which was related to patent. Thus, I started to have interests in intellectual property." Interest is one's best teacher. It is the interest generated when contacting patent as an engineer that led Hao Yan to the IP industry for 13-year regretless persistence.
Since the year of 2003 when she stepped into the IP industry, Hao Yan has changed her position from patent attorney, to lawyer, In-House counsel etc. and has tried different roles from the first party who offered professional services to the second party who demands professional services. Hao Yan has gone through a hard way to grow stronger: now she can engage in fierce battle before the negotiating table for more than 10 hours instead of revising the file with tears all along the way to her dormitory when she was criticized by her master teacher for the first case she was in charge of; now she can calmly present the importance of patent search in front of only 1 audience instead of being awkward and feeling wronged when she organized the training for the first time only to have 3 audiences. However, Hao Yan said, "I value these challenges, difficulties and I will even sacrifice time, money etc. to overcome these obstacles." In Hao Yan's opinion, every job in one's career will give the person different insights and feeling at different period of life, finally embodied in the experience and belief of one's career. "The working experience before has gained me a lot of industry information and helped me accumulate a certain degree of professional experience. For example, it's really a precious experience for me to work in an Taiwan's enterprise as a patent engineer, from which I not only improved my ability in search skills and defense tips in certain cases, but also had deeper knowledge in the thinking mode construction of a lawyer and the importance of laws' basic skill."
After experiencing different sectors in the IP industry, Hao Yan still keeps passion for the IP industry with a beginner's mind and she also turned the valuable experience into her advantages in the position of an IP manager. As she said, "These experiences helped me achieve the plain sailing today."
In 2006, Hao Yan joined Morris Garages Branch of SAIC Motor Corporation Limited to act as the IP manager. At that time, SAIC was developing and preparing the market access of the first independent developed and produced midsize car - "ROEWE 750". Hao Yan together with her IP colleagues of the self-owned brand team were faced with countless drawings, technical checklists, trademark checklists etc. for day and night. "It was a hard time, and also a time for rapid growth." Hao Yan still appreciates the progress it had brought to her when remembering that hard time. In the self-owned brand team, Hao Yan participated in the IP team developing plan to prepare and implement the plan. In about 2008, She has pushed SAIC's self-owned brand into the initial IP planning and kept promoting the self-owned brand IP work in a deeper and farther way. Up to now, Hao Yan has devoted to the IP work in SAIC for 10 years. She recalled the past experience and said, "China's self-owned brand cars have always been labelled ‘cheap, low performance and high emissions'. To change people's impression, SAIC has seen others' derision for high pricing and negative evaluations such as low sales during its self-owned brand path. It has taken 10 years for the self-owned brand of SAIC to eliminate these rumors. And the spirit of Morris Garages Branch of SAIC - “Through harsh tempering, can one accomplish great things; With a beginner's mind, can people encourage each other to overcome obstacles', is an inexhaustible power for me to insist on this position for 10 years."
Take "Creating Value for Enterprise" as her responsibility
As an In-House IP manager, Hao Yan believes that, the IP work of enterprises must go through the transition procedure from quantitative change to qualitative change. A topic of IP will always surround technology sources, of which the patent number decides whether an enterprise can get a ticket to the technological competition. Although we have to admit that more patents do not mean more advanced technology, we have to know that the so-called layout and operation without certain amounts of patents is like a tree without roots." Therefore, in the IP layout of enterprises, Hao Yan insisted that patent application number should reach a certain level. She disclosed that, since 2009, Morris Garages Branch of SAIC has realized a sustainable increase in invention patent applications, with the annual application number rising from a single-digit growth before the year of 2009 to a hundred-digit growth. On the basis of quantity guarantee, Hao Yan never ignored the quality of patent, with a strict control over patent quality at all times. The said control is not a general quality examination but a management control system based on the patent management system of the enterprise's internal control management and with the support of search report and analysis." According to my working thought, the patent which leads or pushes the progress of the industry is a patent offering timely help; the patent which can gain access to the market and draw consumers is a patent making the patent-related product or sector even better. Both of the above two patents have high quality and all of the technology solutions which can give birth to these patents need a protection in all aspect no matter how hard the course is."
In the micro perspective, Hao Yan pays great attention to the quantity and quality of patent applications; in the macro perspective, she emphasizes on the idea of "Creating Value for Enterprise" in the IP management of the enterprise. She said, "what is IP born for? In essence, the IP system is born for boosting innovation; while in origin, it is born for property protection. In the chain of property creation, any people and things without value must be abandoned because they gained no profits with vain cost. For example, the IP Department of the famous company - Philips, are respected by the whole company, of which the reason is that they create value and make profits."Therefore, Hao Yan follows the idea that "Only constantly proving their value to the Business Department and the Market Department, can the IP Department be respected and supported", and take "Creating Value for Enterprise"as the responsibility of an In-House IP manager. She further explained the measures to implement her idea as an IP manager, "Besides the value maintenance service including patent and trademark application, the IP value appreciation of an enterprise should be reflected not only in the patent operation and patent transaction, but also in assisting the business team to identify risks and lower the transaction cost etc. All the above services will add value to the enterprise's IP. Thus, I insist that, aiming at different programs, we should adopt different search and analysis methods and even employ different external lawyers (especially foreign lawyers) to make solutions covering the program's background technology, transaction risks and avoiding strategy for the reference of business staff and technical staff."
"To create value for enterprise", it is not enough to limit the subject to enterprise itself. Only by taking a broad view through the whole industry, can the enterprise deeply understand what it needs the most. Automobile manufacture is an industry with highly concentrated capital and technology, many downstream partners, and even a new trend of interdisciplinary cooperation in recent years. As an IP manager in this industry, Hao Yan has paid high attention to the industry technology and business information in order to ensure their IP work play real roles in technology innovation and market competence. Hao Yan disclosed to China IP, that she has helped the business team in acquisition, jointventure enterprises' establishment and bankruptcy to set the plan for IP license and transfer and build up brand related IP protection strategy together with the market team. What's more, she also provided valid law support in planning technology cooperation and product manufacture etc. and ensure the Sales team's safe access to the market in South America and the East Asia.
It seems like a moment although she has worked as an IP manager for more than 10 years. Hao Yan said, "In recent years when I interviewed fresh graduates, I was touched by their faces showing their visions, anxiety and the eagerness to be recognized every time." Looking back, she thinks she is so lucky to still keep a sharp view and permanent passion in the IP industry with a beginner's mind. Looking ahead, she will pursue for the progress diligently. She said, "For the industry of IP managers and even the whole law service industry, it's the best times now. Because we have the most various sources and platforms, which has beyond the imagination of the old-generation professionals in patent and trademark industry. At the same time, it's the worst time now. Because we are facing with the clients who have the highest requirements. The public's rising passion for patent does not match with the long-term negative situation of talent reserve and knowledge reserve in the IP industry. As a professional group, we still have great room to work hard."

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