In order to protect a trademark from competitors, a company owner must register it at the Chinese Trademark Office. The registration offers exclusive rights to a particular trademark in China, but the process can only be completed if the trademark that is submitted for protection observes some general rules.
Our Chinese lawyers can help you make sure that your chosen trademark is eligible for registration and follow the necessary steps for trademark registration in China.
Reasons to register a trademark in China
A trademark is a sign that helps differentiate one company from another. This is especially important for companies that want to establish themselves on the market and need to be distinguishable in the eye of their consumers. The sign (trademark) of the company can be composed of words, letters, numbers, signs or shapes, combinations of colors or any combinations of a number of elements as those described above. Companies can also register sounds as a specific trademark for a product or service they offer.
A trademark can be registered in China regardless of the type of company that uses it. It is advisable to register a brand name in China because the country does not automatically recognize a brand name registered in another country. China has a Trademark Law and our Chinese attorneys can help you understand the principles of the law and the submission process.
Trademark registration steps
The conditions that a trademark has to fulfill in order to be registered in China are the following:
-the trademark must be legal: it cannot be identical or similar to international organizations, it cannot discriminate or have fraudulent advertising;
-should be distinctive;
-must not be functional - a rule for 3D shapes;
-must be available.
All trademark registration applications are submitted at the Chinese Trademark Office. The official trademark database is also available online. Once registered, a trademark has a validity period of ten years and it can be renewed afterwards for another ten years. Foreign investors in China are advised to register the trademark in written Chinese as well as in roman characters to allow for a better protection in China.
Do I need a preliminary trademark search in China?
Yes, it is extremely important to make a verification and search if your trademark is available or not. This way you can avoid any infringement case and other legal issues that might arise. In other words, you can avoid accepting and using an already registered trademark, logo or sign for your future company in China. One of our Chinese lawyers can provide immediate legal advice and assistance if you want to make a trademark verification with the entitled authorities.
What happens if my trademark is rejected?
If your trademark is rejected and cannot be registered, you can appeal such a decision within 15 days to the Chinese courts. In most of the cases, a trademark application is refused because of potential infringements with other existing logos on the market. The intellectual property and trademark in China are treated extremely seriously by the authorities, so you might want to pay attention to the type of logo and representative signs you wish to use. We remind you that a verification is essential before you decide on registering the trademark for your future business in China. One of our advisors is ready to provide you with in-depth assistance and legal support in this matter. They can also act on behalf of your company with a power of attorney.
We invite businessmen to watch a short presentation referring to trademarks in China:
How long does it take until my trademark is approved?
In some cases, the duration of trademark applications might prolong to 18 months, and that because of the trademark registration and procedure flow. We remind that a trademark search is imposed in the first place, followed by your application, an examination made by the authorities. If all the conditions are respected, the publication of the trademark is accepted, and then the trademark certificate is issued. More than that, we mention that trademark registration is valid for 10 years, with the possibility of renewing it.
The protection of property rights in China
In the case of trading activities within the territory of China, the General Administration of Customs in China is entitled to refuse any cargo or shipment that presents trademark infringement signs. In other words, any products or goods that interfere with the intellectual property rights protected in China can be banned for clearance and entrance. For a better understanding of trademark regulations in China, we kindly suggest you talk to one of our lawyers in China.
FAQ about trademark in China
1. Why do I need a trademark in China?
If you plan a business in China you need to register a trademark in China and establish your identity on the market. Combinations of letters, colors, shapes and numbers are permitted.
2. How do I register a trademark in China?
The Chinese Trademark Office is the institution in charge of trademark registration in this country. Your trademark application can be submitted to this authority in China.
3. What is the main condition for trademark registration in China?
A trademark or a logo needs to be unique, distinctive and must not present discriminatory elements. For a proper understanding of trademark rules and regulations, you can address to one of our Chinese attorneys.
4. Do I need a trademark verification before registration?
Yes, it is important to make a preliminary verification and see if your logo or trademark exists or not. This is the first step in registering a trademark in China, in order to avoid any possible infringements.
5. What is the validity of a trademark in China?
A trademark in China is available for 10 years. You can renew the validity of your trademark within 6 months prior to the expiration date. This way, the authorities will know if your business is still available on the market, running under the same trademark or logo.
Intellectual property rights in China
Because China is part of the World Trade Organization (WTO), its laws and regulations regarding intellectual property rights comply with the agreements and the framework set by the WTO. Although piracy is an issue in China, recent developments are encouraging.
A company that wants to protect its intellectual property in China should register its patents, trademarks and other items with the relevant Chinese authorities. Patent protection in China is valid for 20 years following the date of the application for patent protection. Food, beverages, pharmaceutical products or chemical products as well as many others are patentable. Chinese companies that want to file for a patent should know that patent rights are not given specifically to the inventors, but also to the one who files for patent first.
Ensuring legal protection for IP rights in China
In order to make full use of their intellectual property rights and to make sure that they are the only ones using them, companies operating in China should register these rights. Counterfeit or infringement cases can be solved either through an administrative action or through civil litigation. Negotiation and mediation are two legal practices which can be used in cases where the property rights have been infringed. By doing this, you can avoid going to court.
Intellectual property rights protected at the people’s court in China
Any person, local or from overseas, with activities protected by the Intellectual Property Law in China and whose rights have been infringed can solve the dispute in the people’s court in China by receiving operative judicial protection immediately. Furthermore, the people’s court will only consider the legislation in this matter and will act independently, without being subject to any public or administrative organization in China.
The infringement cases in China are issued with complete attention to the facts and with the criterion provided by the Copyright Law. One should know that, if the infringement of the intellectual property rights is severe and considered a serious offence, the people’s court in China has the power to enforce punishments like penalties or imprisonment, according to the rules and regulations in this matter.
Please consider that for a litigation process in China, suitable legal representation is mandatory, therefore do not hesitate to talk to your Chinese attorneys.
The protection of the rights in the commerce field in China
The administrative departments for industry and commerce in China have the responsibility of preserving the economic order and can also make several investigations in varied areas to see if the intellectual property rights are respected. The administrative offices of China’s intellectual property rights entities are meant to protect the rights and interests of companies and individuals regarding the trademark in China in a fair manner. Numerous foreign entrepreneurs with activities in China consider the intellectual property rights protection a must on the highly developed market in the country, where authorities should involve even more by successfully enforcing the law in each case of infringement.
Investments in China
The Chinese market is highly attractive for international investors, in sectors like manufacturing, tourism, engineering, innovation, agriculture or pharmaceuticals. The following facts and figures highlight in large lines the business and economy direction of China:
•There are more than 60,000 American companies with activities in China;
•Around USD 1,627,000 million was the total FDI stock for China in 2018;
•A series of tax and tariff cuts have been introduced by the authorities in China to sustain the FDI.
•871 was the number of greenfield investments registered in China in 2018.
•China was the world’s second-largest FDI recipient in 2019, according to UNCTAD.
Our Chinese law firm can help you with further information about issues like trademark infringements or the renewal of trademarks. Please contact our Chinese law firm for more details and assistance for registering a trademark in China.