Cheers from the Blue Butcher Bar & Restaurant after an eventful day in Hong Kong!
Today’s itinerary included two company visits– VF Corporation and Paul Hastings LLP.
At VF we met with the General Counsel for Asia, Theo Pang. Mr. Pang was kind enough to give us a tour of the different brand showrooms, including Timberland, Napajiri, The North Face, Vans and Seven For All Mankind. Among our observations, the most apparent of which was that all of the employees seemed very in touch with and comfortable with all of the brands. As a result, brand development was a clear priority.
Our group was tasked with approaching the visit from an intellectual property and counterfeiting perspective. With that in mind, we were most surprised to observe that the relationships with the brands made it easier to accept the fact that counterfeiting will never be completely eradicated. With that in mind, this made it easier to approach the issue from a brand development and innovation perspective as opposed to a strictly legal approach.
Another observation that was particularly evident was the commitment to developing “lifestyle brands.” As we observed and learned about the brands through the showroom presentations, it was clear that whether they were established lifestyle brands or brands initially geared towards a single product or niche target market, VF’s goal was to make every brand one that conserved the lifestyle of each of its different customer bases. For example, one brand that particularly exhibited this approach was Seven For All Mankind, which has been known exclusively for its high end line of denim products. We learned in the showroom presentations that Seven jeans in particular was being transformed into more than just a jeans company, it would define a lifestyle.
At VF they say,”we fit your life,” and we agree.
Following our VF visit, we were invited to lunch with one of Professor Hicks’ colleagues, an intellectual property attorney from Beijing, Ms. Spring Chance. Over lunch we were apprised of many of the current issues related to intellectual property law in China.
Later on in the afternoon, we went to Paul Hastings LLP, an international law firm from the United States with an office in Hong Kong. Katherine Watlington, a second year associate at the firm with ties to Elon University, was kind enough to host us. The visit began with a presentation on the transactional details of the deal between Shuanghui International and Smithfield Farms. The presentation was particularly insightful in that it shed valuable light on some of the important considerations that go into a merger transaction between a Chinese company and an American company.
The overall day’s experience was both enjoyable and enlightening and we hope to keep in touch with the people that we met along the way.
Written by: Jessica, Ryan & LeeAnne