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Assessment of trademark registrability in China

It is good practice before filing a trademark for protection to assess the chances of registering it.

The analysis consists of checking for the existence of potential conflicts with other previously filed marks and the possibility of obtaining protection due to the requirements of local law.

China is currently the absolute global leader in the number of trademarks registered. Each year, the Chinese Trademark Office (CNIPA) receives millions of applications for protection, making it challenging, if still possible, to obtain registration for a two- or three-syllable mark in popular classes. Assessing the chances of registration prior to filing an application gives a general idea of the chances of a successful application. The examination is of course not mandatory, it is definitely worthwhile.

During the assessment, it’s checked whether the same or similar trademarks in a given class have already been applied for in the trademark register. The examination concerns the verbal level, given the technical possibilities. In addition to distinctive character, it is also important to check for absolute grounds for refusal. These are features of the mark which, by the letter of the law, preclude its protection. These may include geographical names, national or international symbols in the mark which are protected and cannot be used in trade. The mark should also not be confusing, offensive or misleading as to the nature, quality or origin of the product or service.

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What is trademark registrability assessment?

The trademark registrability assessment is an evaluation of the chances of registering a particular trademark due to: identical or similar trademarks with earlier priority and absolute grounds (legal obstacles to granting protection to a trademark).

What are trademarks with prior rights?

Prior rights trademarks are those that have been previously filed and are still under consideration for protection, or registered marks – which still have valid protection rights.

In what language is the registrability assesment performed in China?

The assessment is carried out for marks written in Chinese characters and Latin letters. This is because all types of marks are eligible for registration in China: transcriptions in Chinese characters, in Latin and with bilingual transcription. All types are commonly used.

Is the registrability test compulsory?

No, it is not a mandatory procedure. The applicant may or may not order such assessment.

Does the assessment give me a 100% guarantee of protection if no risk of rejection is identified at the assessment stage?

No, no examination can guarantee a successful registration. It is the Chinese Trademark Office (CNIPA) that independently examines the application and makes a decision, which can of course be appealed. However, experience shows that the examination of the patent purity of a mark is a very good practice with a high efficiency in estimating the chances of final registration.

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