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【Notice】Trademark Registration in China, an essential necessity

20th December 2019, Xinhua News Agency reported that the China Trademark Office asserted its intention to take a firm hand on bad-faith registration and further protect the copyright and trademark to ensure fair competition.


While western media seems to love to report stories on how in China the copyrights and trademarks are not respected at all and how the law enforcement fail to protect the legal rights of foreign investors.


China has become a giant trademark countries as the accumulated amount of registered trademarks is up to 24.78 million cases so far. The application case number has ranked first worldwide for 17 years in a row. In the meantime, bad-faith registration is not uncommon. 


Since 2018, there had been about 130000 cases been rejected at different phases of application.In addition, it is declared that trademark not for use purpose will be considered as bad-faith and will be rejected according to latest policies.  


Therefore, with a proud Chinese nationality, Reindeer Station is firmly positive that Chinese government is very seriously with protecting intellectual property and while never ceased to improving and updating the copyright law. 


However, there are certain stereotypes concerning the trademark registration in China that we would like to discuss and clarify on general basis. We hope after reading this article, you won’t be mislead by media stories anymore, at least not easily.


▍ China’s law enforcement does a poor job protecting patent right  

Truth: Those who fail to distinguish the various types of intellectual property usually believe that. Maybe China’s patent law system is difficult for foreign companies to grasp even with translation. 


But, its protection of trademarks is actually quite good and getting better all the time. The simple explanation is that as domestic companies growing stronger and more influential with the concern of protecting their own trademarks, would demand the law enforcement to take better action.


Yet, it is unfortunately true that copyright protection in China, mostly of music, films, and software is unsatisfactory.


▍ When only manufacturing in China then shipping abroad, no need to register 

Truth: China adopts the rule of “First to File“, unlike the USA which is “First to Use“. Therefore if you intent to only taking full advantage of the world-class manufacturing line then shipping your labeled products overseas, someone who holds your trademark in China can stop your shipment from leaving. 


This is a typical “Trademark thief“ act. Those thieves are well-earned professionals who specified in registration foreign brand in China and somehow blackmail the actual trademark holder to buy out their original one. 


They are well aware of the price foreign holders will loss if the custom refuse to release the shipment offshore and the high cost of litigation, then offering significant “discounted“ price compare to that cost.


Therefore, it is extremely important to at least check with the trademark office for any trademark similarity before stating manufacturing anything you want to patent. If unfortunately it has been stolen, you can choose either to buy it back with much more bargaining power over the scenario above, or to litigate.


The most recent amendment to the China’s Trademark Law provides that applications for trademarks not intended for use shall be rejected. Even prior to the entry into force of the amended Trademark Law, China’s Supreme Court and the China Trademark Office (CTMO) had taken aim at bad-faith registrations.


▍Trademark the original one, not the translated one  

Truth: Chinese language is difficult but actually China’s trademark requirements are quite similar to most other countries. So the paperwork should not stop any perspective trademark holders to consider registration of its Chinese name. 


For example, Starbucks registered more than 200 trademarks in China. It has registered Starbucks in English and the translation of “star” and “bucks” together in Chinese. Some companies trademark the simplified name and traditional one, even the name in local language.


▍ International copyright is enough to get protection as stated in the Chinese Law  

Truth: From experience, it is always better to get the trademark registration in China to file for protection. 


In fact, a foreign copyright registration, even if its translated, notarized, certified by the local authorities, and authenticated at a Chinese embassy or consulate, the authorities will still want to see a Chinese registration.


After assessing these stereotypes, Reindeer Station would like to offer some tips about trademark in China.


Be careful with the agent you choose to register your trademark / 小心你选择的注册商标的代理商

It is somehow a sad fact that there are fake lawyers and fake agents with no qualifications whose simple game is to lure your down payment. 


Usually the most investment they made is a copycat website of legit lawyers and institutions. Nevertheless, every each one legit lawyer in China has a code you can check with government authorities, and there are multiple supervising institutions can be used for reference.


Register trademarks in China, better do this before going in / 在进入中国前最好注册商标

As we explained above, trademark theft is not uncommon. To avoid further trouble and seek maximum protection, it is strongly suggested to make the registration sooner than later.


Record your trademarks with China Custom / 用中国海关记录您的商标

It’s an extremely cost-efficient way to amplify the benefits of registering your trademarks in China. And one should always seek opportunities to liaise with different Customs offices, better, provide up to the date sample of products for the convenience for their work when counterfeit appear in the market.


Nowadays, the application is handled on the official website of China Trademark Office. Like most government website, it only provide Chinese version. Therefore if you have any questions and concerns, which are inevitable if you are considering doing business in or with China, please contact us. We are ready to help make everything easy.



宁波灵达商务服务有限公司    备案号:2020037656号-2