Local vendors score big at New York licensing fair

SKY'S THE LIMIT: Taiwanese firms signed licensing deals worth US$11.9 million this year from a total pool of US$18.9 billion, indicating there's room for growth

By Jason Tan  /  STAFF REPORTER

Fri, Sep 08, 2006 - Page 11

Participation in the world's largest licensing fair in New York in June proved to be fruitful for local vendors, as they managed to seal deals worth NT$390 million (US$11.9 million), government organizers said yesterday.

The figure was a 77 percent increase from last year's NT$220 million, and was better than the estimated NT$350 million that National Science Council organizers expected prior to this year's Licensing 2006 International. Nine local vendors attended the fair.

"The Taiwanese licensing industry is still in its infancy, and we are making progress by joining these international shows," Chen Chao-chen (陳昭珍), a senior researcher from the council, told reporters yesterday.

Repeatedly showing up to large exhibitions helps boost vendors' brands, and bringing local vendors together under one pavilion has attracted a lot of foreign attention, she said.

Under this year's theme of "Creative Taiwan," the nation's pavilion attracted the interest of 500 foreign firms. Last year only 200 companies registered their desire to collaborate with local firms, she said.

The licensing show in New York, in its 26th year, has always been a first class venue for companies to showcase their special trademark products for licensing. Participating names included Walt Disney, Warner Brothers, Sony Pictures and Coca Cola.

Aiming to entice foreign firms with Oriental culture, local companies set up 15 booths this year, with a display from the National Palace Museum as the centerpiece of the pavilion.

The museum has been aggressively pushing its brand and image licensing by tapping into its vast collection of 650,000 ancient Chinese treasures and artworks.

Happy participants

Other participants included licensing companies Artkey Art Licensing Center (藝奇藝術) and ePhoenix Networks Co (碩特國際), as well as content production houses TVbean Co (電視豆) and Caliber Multimedia Technology and Trading Co (嘉利博).

Erica Lee (李靜雅), marketing coordinator from design firm Bright Ideas Design Co (頑石創意), found the New York trip useful as it brought the company's products to the attention of new clients.

The company is exploring new clientele from South Korea and Europe, and is currently in talks to sign license deals with several agents, she said.

Bright Ideas' No. 1 product line, the "Katz Fun" characters, received the most attention at the fair, she said.

The adorable characters -- derived from a series of classical Chinese paintings of children at play -- are aimed at "awakening the child" in everyone.

"We could tell from the fair that a number of big Western companies such as Walt Disney, are beginning to pay attention to Oriental icons such as pandas and martial arts," she said, adding that this will give Taiwanese firms an important advantage in securing licensing deals.

But to take the local licensing industry to the next level, Chen said more licensing specialists have to be nurtured, along with tighter collaboration between the government and companies.

Judging from the total US$18.9 billion worth of licensing deals that were signed at the New York fair, local vendors should aim to do even better next year, she said.