Why and how to register trademark in China?

China’s market of more than one billion people, which is growing steadily, is a major incentive for domestic entrepreneurs to expand beyond the Great Wall. On the one hand, cooperation with Chinese partners offers the prospect of attractive returns and the fulfilment of the aspirations of a global company; on the other hand, there are a number of risks arising from the peculiarities of the Chinese market. Some companies may encounter a number of difficulties at the stage of registering a trademark in China. This article explains how to avoid them.

Why is a registered trademark so important in China?

A Trademark Protection Certificate issued by the Chinese Trademark Office (CNIPA) is proof that a company has the right to protect a particular trademark. Trademark registration protects against theft of the trademark and unauthorised use by third parties. Importantly, however, trademark registration is required in order to sell goods on e-commerce platforms. In fact, an important benefit of obtaining trademark protection is that it provides a company with a tool to control the distribution of products bearing its brand.

BTW: check also why it is worth registering trademark in India in our another short article..

Chinese patent office & trademark. Filing step by step

To register a trademark in China, the first step is to contact a professional representative who will help you prepare and file an application for protection. The subsequent trademark registration process involves several steps:

    • within approximately 4 weeks from the date of filing the trademark application, the Patent Office will assign a registration number to the trademark;

    • after approximately next 3-4 months, the Office will issue a preliminary decision on the registration of the trademark, in which case two scenarios are possible: an initial acceptance of the filed application and its publication in a public gazette, or a refusal, in which case the entrepreneur has the right to appeal in a separate procedure that usually takes 9 to even 12 months;

    • after about 3 months from the date of publication, if no effective opposition has been filed, the Office will issue a decision on the registration of the trademark in China, and within a further 4 weeks the applicant will receive an electronic trademark registration certificate confirming the grant of the trademark.

The trademark attorney in China and his role

As mentioned above, the involvement of a qualified trademark attorney is required to register a trademark in China. In fact, the Middle Kingdom does not allow foreign entrepreneurs to apply for trademark protection on their own. The assistance of a professional attorney is necessary to determine the correct classes and subclasses of products or services to be protected in China. Besides attorney will also ensure that the correct application is prepared and filed with the Chinese Trademark Office (CNIPA) on time. With the help of professionals such as those working with Trademark Partners, you can be assured that the entire registration process will run smoothly and without unwanted difficulties.

Trademark registered in country outside China. Is it protected in China?

A trademark registered in any other country, no matter in Europe, Middle East, Central Asia, North or South America or Africa does not automatically receive protection in China. In the Middle Kingdom, it is possible to apply for trademark protection under two systems: national and international.

For international registration under the so-called Madrid system, an application for protection of an existing trademark must be filed in China. An entrepreneur using this route must already have a national or regional trademark registered with an office within the territory of the Madrid system (e.g. EUIPO) before starting the process. Importantly, however, the registration process in the international system is not optimal in terms of designating the exact goods and services from the standard list of goods and services established by the Chinese office. This makes local registration in China a more efficient and therefore more recommended solution in practice.

Trademark protection in Europe and China. Differences and similarities

China has a “first to file” system, which means that anyone in China has the right to apply for protection of any trademark if they are the first to do so. This opens up a wide range of possibilities for abuse, so if you are planning to do business with China, you should make sure that your trademark is protected well in advance – ideally before you actually start doing business.

The period of trademark registration in Europe and China also remains an important difference. In both countries, it lasts for 10 years, but trademark protection in Europe is effective from the date of filing, whereas in the Middle Kingdom the protection period begins on the day the brand is registered.

However, trademark protection in Europe and China also shows similarities. These include the possibility for a brand to be filed for protection by both an individual and a legal entity. In addition, China, like Europe, uses the Nice classification to group goods and services filed for protection.

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

The cost of filing a trade mark application in China depends on a number of important factors, the most important of which is the number of classes for which protection is applied. The cost of a single class can be as low as less than EUR 570, but the final price of the trademark registration service is determined on a case-by-case basis and depends on the number of products and services claimed in the class. See our price list for details.

At Trademark Partners, we take a comprehensive approach to each client: we analyse the situation of the particular company, check whether the trademark has already been filed in China, prepare the application, supervise the entire process and are responsible for ongoing communication with the Chinese authorities.

Registered trademark in China – how long does the whole process take?

Registering a trademark in China is is becoming an ever-shorter process, although it still takes months or, in case of refusal or opposition, even years of time. This makes a well-prepared application all the more recommended. Therefore, a well-prepared application is all the more advisable. It is therefore imperative for entrepreneurs planning to do business in China to fulfil this obligation well in advance, even before establishing cooperation with Chinese partners.

At Trademark Partners, we know well how to register a trademark in China. Contact us if you need support.

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