Intellectual property protection is essential for Australian producers looking to enter the Chinese market, according to the Export Council of Australia.

Commercial and property lawyer Scott Bouvier works with the Export Council and producers around Australia on issues of trademark and brand protection.

Mr Bouvier, a partner at King and Wood Mallesons, said every producer who exports to China was at risk of having their brand copied.

But he said the risk of intellectual property theft and brand imitation could be mitigated through good planning.

“As soon as you think that one day you might be heading overseas, then you can go and file a trademark application in China to protect your brand,” he said.

Mr Bouvier said Australians considering overseas export needed to ensure they had secured a trademark in their key markets.

He said the applications could cost between $2,000 and $3,000 and producers should prioritise their most important markets.

“If you’re a wine company you’ve got one application …,” he said.

“China might be a key market, United States may be a key market, you have to work out what budget you have.”

Mr Bouvier said the risk of having brands copied in China would always be there but he said the importance of the Chinese market made the risk worthwhile.

“The time’s right for Australian food and agricultural businesses to really embrace the opportunity in China,” he said.

“And there’s some simple things you can do now to position yourself in terms of your brand.”