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  • Peter Kam Fai Cheung SBS

The Hard Day's Night

During the run up to 1 July, 1997, one of my main tasks was to receive the Director General (DG) of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). He was among the invited VVIPs to witness Britain's handover of Hong Kong. Upon arrival, the DG put his first question to me: "Peter, is it true that Hong Kong has already implemented the Internet Treaties?"

As part of Britain's delegation at WIPO from 1992 to 1996, I followed very closely the WIPO's Internet Treaties process. The government's goal was to ensure that Hong Kong would continue to protect intellectual property came July 1, 1997. Hong Kong's copyright, registered designs and patents laws, all of which I was answerable and responsible, came into force on June 27, 1997.

During the international law-making deliberations in Geneva, I could only have very brief encounters with the DG. When he was in Hong Kong, I was his chief Hong Kong assistant. I gave him a very good impression of Hong Kong as it was the first jurisdiction in the world to incorporate the articles of the Internet Treaties.

During the handover night of June 30, 1997, it was raining dogs and cats. When Hong Kong was being handed over, I was standing by near the Ceremony venue, rain-soaked. Fast forward to 2017, although I was invited to sit inside, it was not as memorable as the hard day's night then!

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