I want to establish a trademark customs recordal

Trademark customs and border protection in China

Want to limit unauthorised trade of your brand's products sourced in China?
Want to stop selling counterfeits under your brand?
Want to stop unauthorised customs clearance throughout Chinese border?
Want to prevent parallel import of your products to China?

Trademark customs and border protection in China - a tool for control your trademark in export & import

Companies that hold a Chinese trademark protection certificate are able to control the movement of products bearing their trademark across mainland China’s customs border. The problem of uncontrolled imports or exports to and from China affects two groups of companies. The first is manufacturers who outsource production in China under their brand and want to block unauthorised trade – the so-called ‘second circulation’ of their brand. In addition to manufacturers, the border declaration also affects those who sell their branded products to China.

What is the benefit of customs recordal in China?

When exporting products to China, the customs recordal makes it possible to prevent parallel, unauthorised exports of your brand’s products. This is particularly important for non-Chinese brand owners – exporters who have signed exclusive distribution agreements with Chinese partners. The distribution of imported products in China is very demanding and costly. The difficulty arises not only from the complexity of accessing the Chinese market, but above all from the costs that an exclusive Chinese distributor must incur for the formalities of product release (certification) and the costs of promoting the brand. Parallel export of the brand to China therefore poses a real risk of a price war between distributors – those cooperating under contract with the brand owner and those importing in parallel without authorisation. Many European manufacturers have adopted a strategy of long-term brand value creation in China, which could be undermined by uncontrolled parallel imports.

The situation is slightly different for importers from China. This is because if an importer from the Middle Kingdom orders production under his brand across the Great Wall, he can also set up a border inspection if he has a protection right for his brand in China. In this way, he will be able to control the clearance of products bearing his brand. This solution will prevent a Chinese manufacturer who uses the design or technology of a foreign company that orders production from abroad from wanting to export products on its own, whether to the customer’s market or to any other market. Of course, this requires an established border control of the trademark in China and a Chinese trademark protection certificate.

How to I estabilsh a customs recordal at the border in China?

A customs recordal border inspection in China can only be established at the request of the company that holds the rights to the trademark in China. The application must be made through a local representative, such as those working with Trademark Partners. The application must be accompanied by a Chinese trademark registration certificate.

Companies holding a certificate of registration issued by international institutions may also establish a border inspection, but must first obtain a locally issued certificate of protection for their trademark.

How does customs recordal border control work in China?

A company that has successfully established customs recordal border control of a trademark in China has control over the movement across the Chinese border (imports and exports) of goods bearing its brand.

When clearing customs, the customs office checks in the clearance system database whether border control has been established for given brand. If so, then it is checked whether the clearance company is listed in the customs register as a person authorised to import/export the brand in question. If this company is authorised, then clearance of the goods goes normally. If not, then the goods will be seized at the border and the trademark owner will be notified of the incident.

Within a few days, he will have to issue a disposition regarding the seized cargo. If he allows the cargo to clear customs, after he pays the information fee, the cargo will be cleared. If, on the other hand, he issues a negative decision, the cargo will be destroyed at the expense of the company attempting to clear the goods. In this case, the cost of informing about the detention of the cargo and the disposal of the goods must initially be paid by the trademark owner. This cost is reimbursed when the Chinese office enforces this amount against the company attempting to clear the goods.

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What is customs recordal?

This is a procedure for recording a trademark information in the Chinese customs database. It is designed to prevent the import/export of counterfeit goods or goods from an unauthorised source.

Why to apply for customs recordal?

This helps to protect the brand from counterfeiting and illegal/unauthorised trade, both export and import.

How long is the customs recordal valid?

Until the trademark rights valid. The application for customs registration must be renewed if the rights to the mark are renewed.

Can I apply for a customs recordal unregistered trademark in China?

No, the mark must be registered in China first to be able to establish customs recordal. Additionally, you will need to hold Chinese brand protection certificate. So if your trademark has been applied for by international institutions, it’s necessary to obtain a trademark certificate issued by Chinese Trademark Office (CNIPA) first.

Is the customs recordal for import or export?

The customs recordal applies to both directions of trade – export and import.

What are the differences between customs recordal and a trademark registration?

The border declaration concerns the control of the movement of goods under the trademark at the border during customs clearance (import or export), and the registration of the trademark concerns the general legal protection of the trademark in the territory.

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FAQ - Frequently asked questions

1. Why to establish customs recordal for a trademark in China? 

Because it is a form of fighting the brand against counterfeit trade, unauthorised by its owner exports/imports from/to China.

2. What documents are needed for a customs recordal? 

Requirements include a Chinese-issued trademark registration certificate, an application and a power of attorney.

3. How long does it take to apply for a customs recordal? 

This process can take from several weeks to several months.

4. Is the customs recordal mandatory? 

No. It is not mandatory but recommended for effective trademark protection at the borders.

5. Can I file a customs recordal application if I do not have a Chinese trademark registration certificate? I only have one issued in the international application? 

You can’t. You must first obtain a Chinese certificate and only with this document can you apply for a customs recordal. Let us know, we know how to help you.

6. Does the customs recordal apply to all ports and borders? 

Yes, the notification applies at all Chinese borders and ports.

7. What happens when customs officers find counterfeit goods or the transport of admittedly genuine products but as part of an unauthorised transaction? 

The owner of the trademark is informed and has to decide what is to happen to the sized products – whether they are to be disposed of or passed through the border.

8. Who pays for the disposal of counterfeit products seized at the border? 

This is paid for by the brand owner. However, when the disposal costs are collected by customs from a company that tried to clear the goods without authorisation, they are reimbursed to you.

9. Is the customs recordal indefinite? 

No, it doesn’t. When the current rights to the trade mark cease or expire, the validity of the customs registration expires also. A new application for customs registration must be filed if the rights are renewed.

10. If a border declaration is not made, what are the consequences? 

Failure to notify can make it difficult to combat counterfeiting or unauthorised importing or exporting to and from China.

11. Does a customs recordal protect against counterfeiting in the internal market? 

The customs recordal mainly concerns border protection, not the internal market.

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