Trademark is to distinguish the goods and services from different trademark owners. Trademarks are unique names, symbols, or logos.
When you come to do business in China it is very important for you to protect your trademarks. Trademarks can include product marks, service marks, certification marks or collective marks and sound marks.
To obtain trademark protection in China, an application for a China trademark can be filed through the national registration system or the international registration system. For a national trademark application in China, an application has to be filed before the China Trademark Office by an official agent.
For the international registration, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) has provided a platform for international registrations among members of the so called “Madrid Agreement”. China is a member of this agreement, and therefore it’s possible to file an application for a China trademark using the international registration system. To use the WIPO system for a trademark application in China is nearly useless, because you always need to register your trademarks in a Chinese translation. If you don’t do it, a competitor will register your trademark in an Chinese version and you will get later a lot of trouble with it.
The trademark registration system in China strictly follows the first to file system, and is not a first to use country. The first applicant who files a China trademark application will get the trademark registration in China. First to file means also, that with very few exceptions, whoever files for a particular trademark in a particular category gets it. So if the name of your company is X and you produce machines and you have been manufacturing your machines in China for the last three years and someone registers the X trademark for this kind of machines, that other company gets the trademark. And then, armed with the trademark, that company has every right to stop your X machines from leaving China because they violate its trademark.
Under the current system, some Chinese entrepreneurs and companies have also successfully registered world-class brand names and, later, attempted to sell (both through negotiation and legal action) the China trademark to the brand owner at an incredibly high price (so called notorious squatter). In order to lower the risk, it is advisable to file a China trademark application as soon as possible.
An international applicant needs an official agent as a representative to file a Trademark application in China. Once the application has been accepted, the authority will examine the China trademark application thoroughly. These examinations include a formality examination, a distinctiveness examination and a search for prior registered China trademark. People at China’s trademark office usually view acronyms as images and so if your company name is something like AVI and someone else has already registered the company name AVO, there is a very good chance your AVI name will be rejected as conflicting with AVO, because to someone who cannot read English, the two names look too much alike.
Once the authority’s requirements have been fulfilled and all required documents have been submitted, the China trademark application will be published in the Trademark Gazette for opposition purpose. This opposition period lasts 3 months starting from the publication date. During the opposition period, any third party who has a prior right could oppose the registration. Therefore, before filing a China trademark application, a proper search for prior China trademarks is advisable. The search will show also the risk of refusal and possible opposition in advance which will greatly help to decide a further step. The duration of a China trademark registration is 10 years from the date of registration and can be renewed for periods of 10 years.
After obtaining a China trademark, the trademark owner has to use the trademark inside the territory of China. If the China trademark has not been used within 3 years from the registration date or, later, has not been used for 3 consecutive years, the China trademark may be subject to cancelation (non use cancellation).
Starke is a Trademark Agent licensed by the State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC) of the P.R.C. With several years of experience we assist you, to register your trademarks in China successful.