Trademark protection in China

Trademark protection in China is the first order of business for any company serious about doing business with the Chinese. This obligation applies not only to companies exporting their goods to the Middle Kingdom, but also to importers outsourcing their production directly to China. Contrary to popular belief, there have been very significant changes behind the Great Wall in recent years in the area of intellectual property protection, which is becoming increasingly important to the Chinese. The government in Beijing explicitly encourages its entrepreneurs to secure trademark rights without delay, not only in China but also abroad. European companies involved in both importing from China and exporting beyond the Great Wall should also consider trademark protection to effectively protect their interests before entering into business relationships with Chinese partners.

Why protect a trademark?

​The main benefit of trademark protection is that it effectively protects against unwanted registration of trademark rights by an unauthorised third party, which would result in certain financial losses. In the context of China, it is worth noting that effective trademark protection not only provides entrepreneurs with protection against the production of counterfeits of their products. In fact, it seems that in today’s reality, China’s largest e-commerce platforms will not even allow companies to enter the market without a certificate of trademark protection. Similar requirements are imposed on retail chains importing goods from abroad. As a result, trademark protection is now the ticket to doing business effectively with the Chinese.

Another advantage is that by filing for trademark protection a company also has a tool to control the distribution of its products. A properly drafted commercial agreement, with detailed rules for the use of the trade mark, therefore gives companies additional means of controlling distribution in the territory. As Trademark Partners, we can help you draft a template for such an agreement that will fully protect your interests in China.

What is the duration of trademark protection in China?

The Trademark Registration Certificate issued by the relevant authority will contain precise dates indicating the period of trademark protection. What is the term of protection in China? According to the law, it is valid for 10 years from the date of registration of the trademark with the Trademark Office. However, the protection can be extended for a further ten years. An application must be filed at least six months before the expiration of the trademark protection period.

How to protect a trademark in China? Civil Procedure

To apply for trademark protection in China, the first step is to contact a professional attorney who will assist in selecting the appropriate classes and subclasses of goods or services for protection. After receiving a number of necessary documents from the applicant, the designated attorney will prepare and file an application for trademark protection with the Chinese Patent Office. It is not possible to do this on one’s own – the intermediation of a lawyer is always required to file the application..

What are the costs of trademark protection in China?

An entrepreneur setting up business in China faces a number of obligations. Among the most important of these are the formalities associated with trademarks. In fact, trademark protection is a priority issue for successful business in China. Registering a trademark in the Middle Kingdom therefore requires an initial analysis of the company’s situation, a check to see whether the trademark has already been filed for registration, and the drafting of an application for trademark protection. The cost of the entire process depends mainly on the number of classes in which the trademark is to be registered. However, the final amount of the service will be determined on an individual basis once the details have been established.

Trade mark protection in Poland vs. trade mark protection in China – differences and similarities

Trademark protection in Poland differs in several respects from the analogous procedure in China. The main difference is that in the Middle Kingdom trademarks written in Chinese characters can be filed for protection, whereas this is not allowed in Poland. Another rather obvious point regarding trademark protection in Poland and China is that a trademark legally protected in Poland is not automatically protected in mainland China. This means that if the owner of a trademark registered in Poland wants to do business in China, he should first obtain protection for his trademark beyond the Great Wall.

However, a significant difference between Chinese and Polish trademark legislation is the registration period. In both cases it is 10 years, but in Poland trademark protection starts from the date of filing, while in China it starts from the date of registration.

Other similarities between trademark protection in Poland and China include the possibility of registering a trademark for both an individual and a legal entity (company). In addition, China, like Poland, is a party to the Nice Agreement – a special classification of goods and services for trademark applications in countries that have acceded to it. As a result, both countries are classified in one of 45 classes: goods in classes 1-34 and services in classes 35-45.