For a long time, it has been believed that protecting trademark rights in China is difficult, if not impossible. This opinion was supported by the huge amount of counterfeit products produced by various Chinese enterprises with the illegal use of well-known brands. For a considerable time, the world market was flooded with these products, and in this regard, the expression "cheap Chinese counterfeit" even appeared. But times have changed.
Today, serious steps are being taken at the state level to combat counterfeit products and to protect trademarks in China. The state is a signatory to almost all international agreements and conventions on the protection of IP rights. For entrepreneurs wishing to register a TM in China, our article may be of practical interest, as it examines the regulatory issues and modern IP protection measures in PRC.
TM registration requirements
If you want to register a TM in China, you can use it as a trademark with distinctive characteristics:
- Letter or word (no restrictions);
- 3D sign;
- Color combination;
- Sound or combination of sounds.
In some cases,TMs cannot be registered. For example, when it bears the symbols of the state and international organizations. The use of well-known geographical names and obscene words and symbols is strictly prohibited. Also, one cannot register odor as a TM, although this has become possible and increasingly popular in Europe and the US.
For those wishing to register IP rights in China, we recommend paying attention to the fact that a foreign TM protection in China is possible if it is registered locally or recognized by the court as a “well-known TM”.
Before you apply for TM registration in PRC
Checking for the presence of similar brands in the database of the TM Office is available before applying for registration. The main purpose of such a check is to identify among previously registered ones or those that have not yet been legalized, but for which there is an application and an examination of TM is identical or similar to your brand. Although verification is recommended, it is up to you to do it or not, and the information provided based on its results has no legal force.
Terms and cost of registration
On average, it takes up to 1 year to register a trademark in China. The costs may vary depending on how many classes and subclasses of goods or services it covers.
An individual consultation on TM registration in PRC from IQ Decision UK specialists will help you find out the actual details.
Trademark protection methods
As a rule, there are three ways to protect TM rights in PRC: administrative measures, civil action and criminal responsibility.
Subject to criminal punishment are:
- use of fake registered trademarks;
- sale of goods with fake registered trademarks;
- illegal manufacture or sale of illegally manufactured registered trademarks.
Trademark infringement disputes in China are resolved by 3 specialized IP courts. If you intend to file an IP infringement claim in China, please note that the limitation period is 3 years, starting from the date when the TM owner or materially interested party learned about the infringement act.
ADR methods in China
For an alternative settlement of commercial conflicts in the PRC, the following are used:
- Assistance of a solicitor in reconciliation of the parties in case of IP infringement in China;
- Mediator services in resolving a TM dispute in PRC.
In turn, arbitration in China is less commonly used in practice, although it is recognized as an effective ADR method.
IQ Decision UK Services
If you have any queries, we recommend signing up for a personal consultation on IP rights protection in China.
You can also order the services of our specialists to provide assistance in registering a TM in the PRC. Reach out to us using the contacts listed below.