MAINLAND CHINA

Filing trademark for protection

About the market

1.4 billion
population
(2022)
70.6%
% of the population aged 15-64 (2022)
0.43%
compound annual population growth rate (CAGR) IN 2012-2022
0.43%
compound annual population growth rate (CAGR) IN 2012-2022
2.99%
GDP growth (2022)
$11,449
GDP PER CAPITA (2022)
26%
ONLINE SHARE OF RETAIL SALES (2023)

Whom does this concern?

Exporters
Importers
Service providers
Application developers
IT sector
Game developers
Companies outsourcing OEM, private label production
Companies manufacturing and selling in China
Companies buying own-brand components (e.g. packaging, casings)

Filing trademark for protection in China

Trademark registration in China is an extremely important formality that should preferably be taken care of at the stage of planning investments with Chinese partners and before actually establishing cooperation with counterparts from the Middle Kingdom.

This obligation applies both to foreign companies exporting their products or services to the Chinese market and to importers outsourcing production to factories in China. At Trademark Partners, we assist ambitious entrepreneurs in the process of registering a trademark in China, thus ensuring effective protection of their brand in the new market and enabling safe expansion into the challenging Chinese market.

If you are planning to do business with Chinese partners, you should know one important thing. Even if your trademark is protected in your home country or the European Union, that does not mean it is protected in China. Unless you register it behind the Great Wall, you have no exclusive rights in that territory and no instruments to defend your intellectual property. Trademarks must be registered with the Chinese Trademark Office (CNIPA).

China operates on a first-to-file princilple. This means that the first person to apply for registration has the right to use a given trademark. This means that if you are not the first to register a trademark in China, you will have no protection under Chinese law.

Anyone who wants to have the exclusive right to use their trademark in China, whether they are buying, selling or providing digital services under their trademark in China, should take care of this obligation.

10 years
Period of protection from the date of registration
6-10 months
Time taken to register a trademark in China, assuming no objections or complications
#File1st®
Priority is given to those who act first. File your mark first, before someone else is faster

Quick knowledge station

Why register a trademark in China?

Registering a trademark brings a number of specific benefits to a company. The most important of these are: the right to exclusive use of a particular mark in the market, unambiguous identification of the company’s offer, protection against counterfeiting. In addition, a registered trademark creates a professional image for the company, which in the long term increases the value of the company and the value of the owner. A registered mark is essential if a company wants to expand abroad. In many markets, such as China, trademark protection is essential in order to get a product into the best distribution channels.

Who in China can file a trademark for protection?

Any person can apply for trademark protection in China. Both an individual and a legal entity (company); Chinese as well as non-Chinese.

Is my brand available for registration in China? How do I check this?

You can check by searching the database of the Chinese Trademark Office (CNIPA). For more information on how to check, please contact us.

How better to file a trademark for protection in China directly or through WIPO?

Local filing is the fastest and surest way to apply for brand registration in China. The main advantage is that it allows you to obtain registration faster, select the exact products or services to be applied for according to a standard list adopted by the China Trademark Office (CNIPA). In addition, the local procedure results in the issuance of a local protection certificate, which is required for many other trademark-related procedures beyond the Great Wall, such as applying for the creation of official Chinese social media accounts. A WIPO application does not directly provide such opportunities.

What documents are required to register a trademark directly in China?

The usual requirements are proof of identity or an English translation of the company’s registration document, together with a power of attorney, a trademark representation (i.e. an image file if you are applying for a figurative mark or a word and figurative mark) and a list of goods/services. A catalogue of the products available under the trademark applied for is very useful.

#File1st® File your trademark for protection

FAQ - Frequently asked questions

1. Can an individual apply to register a trademark in China? 

Yes, in China you can file a trademark application for protection by an individual.

2. Who can apply for trademark protection in China? 

Anyone can apply to register a trade mark, whether an individual or a company.

3. What gives filing a trademark for protection directly in China?  

By filing locally, you will get your registration faster, and you will also get a local certificate straight away, which is very useful for business. These are the main, but not the only, advantages of filing directly for protection in the Middle Kingdom.

4. What is a local Chinese trademark protection certificate better at? 

In most cases, a local certificate of trademark registration is required to launch a product on the most popular e-commerce platforms, to open official brand communication channels on social media and for other trademark related procedures, such as setting up a border registry, filing for the elimination of counterfeits or unauthorised trading accounts.

5. What is the process for registering a trademark in China? 

The registration process consists of several steps: preparation and filing of the application, substantial examination of the application, publishing the intention to register and, finally, issuing the certificate of protection.

6. I run my own business (self-employed). Can I apply for trademark protection in China? 

Of course, you can file your trademark in China if you run your own business. Please prepare your business licence in English.

7. Is it possible for me to apply for a trademark registration in China by myself online? 

This is not possible. Direct filing can only be done by an authorised local professional agent who is qualified to do so, such as those who work with Trademark Partners.

8. What documents are required for trademark registration in China? 

Typically, an English business licence (originally issued or translated into English) or passport copy (if applying for an individual), a power of attorney, a representation of the mark (graphic file) and a list of goods/services are required.

9. How long does it take to register a trademark in China? 

The Chinese Trademark Office processes trademark applications quickly. The process takes between 6 and 10 months if there are no objections or complications. At Trademark Partners, we have registered several trademarks in as little as 5.5 months.

10. Do I need to use my trademark in China before registering? 

This is not necessary, you can even apply for a new trademark. However, remember that the trademark must be used within three years of registration, otherwise someone may try to cancel it.

11. How much does it cost to register a trademark in China? 

Costs vary depending on the number of classes and products filled. Have a look at our price list.

12. What is 'priority registration' and can I use it in China? 

If the country in which the trademark is applied for is a signatory to the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property (such as China), a right of priority may be claimed when applying for protection of the trademark in its territory.

This right allows the application to be treated as having been filed on the date of the first application for protection of that mark in another Member State. This right can only be requested for applications filed no later than 6 months after the first filing.

For example, if a trade mark is first filed for protection in a Member State on, say, 01.02.2023, the priority period for filing the same trade mark in another country ends on 31.07.2023.

The advantage of using the priority right is that marks can be registered quickly and efficiently in multiple countries, significantly reducing the risk of copycats filing for the same mark in other regions and blocking the company’s seamless international registration.

Filing as described will incur additional fees.

13. Can I register multiple variants of my trademark in China as one application? 

Each brand variant requires a separate application. If the differences between the variants are negligible, no additional applications are required.

14. Can I expand my existing registration in China to include new products or services?  

This is not an option. A new filing will be required, preferably covering both existing and new products/services. However, in some cases it may be better to submit a notification with new data only. Let us know, we will be happy to advise.

15. Is registering a trademark in China valid in other territories? 

Registration in China is only valid within the mainland of China.

16. Is registering a trademark in Hong Kong, Macau, or Taiwan equivalent to registering it in Mainland China? 

No, Hong Kong, Macau or Taiwan have separate legal and trademark registration systems. In mainland China, you must apply for trademark protection separately.

17. Does registering a website domain provide trademark protection in China? 

Domain registration is not a substitute for trademark registration and does not provide the same level of protection.

18. Is there an international registration system that covers China? 

Yes, China is a member of the Madrid Agreement and the Madrid Protocol. Filing a trademark in China through international institutions has its disadvantages.

19. How can I check if my trademark or a similar one is already registered in China? 

You can check this by searching the database of the Chinese Trademark Office (CNIPA).

20. Can I register a trademark in China for a digital class such as apps or software? 

Yes, China Trademark Office (CNIPA) allows mark registration for digital goods and services.

21. Which trademark - word or word figurative - is better to file in China? 

There is no clear answer to this question. Registering a word mark has its advantages, such as the possibility of using different graphic forms of the mark. On the other hand, the protection of a word and figurative mark has the advantage that it is protected not only on the word level but also on the figurative level.

22. Can I register a shape or colour as a trademark in China? 

Yes, China’s intellectual property law allows for the registration of unconventional trademarks, including shapes, colours or even sounds.

23. Can I register a sound as a trademark in China? 

Yes, China’s intellectual property law allows for the registration of sound trademarks.

24. Does registering a trademark help prevent counterfeiting? 

Yes, but enforcing protection in China requires a Chinese trademark registration certificate, vigilance, local support and certainly speed in taking legal action.

25. What are the consequences of not registering a trademark in China? 

Without registration, you may not be able to sell products through the most popular channels, and you may not be able to stop the production and trade of counterfeits. It is generally more difficult to protect and enforce trademark rights. And if someone has registered the same trademark as yours in a product or service category, you will not be able to do business with your trademark in China.

26. Can I register a slogan as a trademark in China? 

Yes, advertising slogans can be registered as trademarks if they are distinctive and do not directly describe a good or service, e.g. a water producer would not register the trademark “The only healthy water”. In this case, his water is not the only one on the market and it is not possible to determine whether the water as such is healthy, i.e. provides health to the body (there is no scientific evidence for this), or even whether his water is healthier than others on the market or the same. Therefore, since the truth of this claim cannot be established, the registration of such a trademark cannot be allowed.

27. Is the registration process different for services and goods? 

The registration process is similar, but it is necessary to determine whether the mark relates to goods or services. This is done by selecting the appropriate class in which to file the mark.

28. Can I register an English trademark in China? 

Yes, but it is also advisable to register the Chinese equivalent of your trademark for a number of reasons. There are many. You can find a lot of information on this link.

29. Is it necessary to have a Chinese version of the trademark in China? 

It is not necessary, but highly recommended. For the Chinese, Chinese characters are the natural form of everyday communication. It is easier for them to remember, even if they know English. But not everyone knows them.

30. What happens if someone has already applied for the same trademark in China? 

If you apply for a trademark with the same wording as another trademark that has already been applied for in the same category, you can expect a refusal. It is better to check the actual situation before applying for protection.

31. I have been refused a trademark registration in China. What should I do? 

You can appeal. But you have a certain amount of time to do so. To prepare a good argument, you will need help. You will not be able to do this alone. Let us know and we will assess the situation and what we can do. In the meantime, read on to find out more about what you can do if refused. And in the meantime, check out this link for lots of additional information.

32. Someone is trying to register my trademark in China? What should I do? 

You can appeal at any time. You will need to do this through a representative. Let us know and we will assess the situation and the possibility of further action.

33. What action can I take if someone infringes on my brand in China? 

You can pursue your rights through the courts or through administrative enforcement. Let us know and we will assess the situation and the possibility of further action.

35. How long is a trademark registration valid in China? 

Trademark registration (legal protection) in China is valid for 10 years from the date of registration.

36. How to renew trademark protection in China? 

The brand can be renewed every ten years. An application to extend the period of protection of a trademark in China to a new period should be filed no earlier than one year but no later than six months before the end of the current period of protection. You will need the support of a professional attorney. Let us know, we will be happy to help.

37. How can Trademark Partners help me import goods from China? 

Our assistance can be of two types. In terms of the trademark issue, we can check whether you are infringing someone else’s trademark rights when you buy from China under your own brand name (i.e. OEM or private label products). In terms of the import itself, we can help you find suppliers, check their reliability and establish business relationships with them.

38. What is the language in which the certificate of trademark protection is issued in China? 

The certificate confirming the registration of a trademark in China is issued in Chinese only.

39. What kind of information is included in a certificate of trademark protection in China? 

The certificate contains the following information: the registration number, the image of the protected mark, the name and address of the right holder (the company for which the mark is registered), the class in which it is protected, the list of protected products or services and the term of protection.

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