Process of Registering & Renewing Trademark in China

Throughout history, going back thousands of years, there have been marks, symbols, or graphics that have been associated with specific individuals or organizations. They have been used in advertisements, seals of approval, etc. The use of marks to identify and distinguish property dates way back and for good reason. Most of the earliest known Trademarks on goods are associated with makers’ or owners’ identities. The history of Trademark law begins when Trademark laws were first officially passed in the 19th century by Europe and the United States. However, this isn’t the first Trademark-like situations that have emerged in History.

What exactly a Trademark is-

A Trademark is a word or symbol or combination thereof used by manufacturer or vendor in connection with a product or service. The distinctiveness is maintained as well as sales are much smoother as people are able to identify with that particular commodity or service.

Trademarks are divided into 42 international classes, each class representing similar goods or services. Whereas a Trademark may be registered under multiple classes, it is protected only in the class(es) relevant to the business or trade area of the item.

At present special signs warn people that a Trademark is registered. The symbols (R)—® or TM—™ placed near the Trademark indicate that registration is either in force or pending, thus implying that any unauthorized use of that mark can lead to legal consequences.

What kinds of things can be registered as Trademarks?

You can Trademark many of the things that you use to distinguish your business from other businesses. You might have a Trademark for:

  1. Your business name
  2. A product name
  3. Your logo or label
  4. A symbol or design
  5. A sound
  6. A product package

Trademark registration process in China-

China’s role as a global economic leader is by now consolidated, having radically changed its economy from a predominantly agricultural one that was generally closed to international trade, to a market-oriented one with dynamic banking and private sectors, China is now top of the list of countries for whoever wants to expand and invest internationally. China ’s emergence as a world economic superpower has confirmed that the once export-orientated powerhouse is now much more internally focussed, creating ample opportunities for companies looking to expand globally.

Companies from all over the world either have already set up a company in China or desperately thinking about doing so as early as possible. One of the important aspects of doing business in China is registering your Trademark. Unlike some countries, China do not provide protection for unregistered Trademark under the common law. China practices “first to file” system for Trademarks, meaning the right to a mark goes to the first party who registers it. The Chinese Trademark Office (CTMO), operates on a “first in, first served” basis. This principle allows any third-party, Chinese or foreigners, to register in China any Trademarks, including the Trademarks that you have created.

Trademark registration process for Chinese company and people-

Anybody can register a Trademark in China. A Trademark owner may be a Chinese enterprise, Chinese institution, Chinese social organization, Chinese individual business, Chinese individual partnership, a Chinese natural person.

Trademark registration process for foreign companies-

For a foreign company that does not have a base in China, a Trademark agent or lawyer is required to register. For a list of additional service providers, please visit the recommendations for protecting your intellectual property rights in China page. A straightforward Trademark registration can take approximately 18 months.

Here is a list of documents a company needs to submit while applying for Trademark in China:

  • 1x copy of the company’s certificate of incorporation
  • Company name and address in both English and Chinese
  • Signature by company’s director
  • Print and digital version of proposed Trademark (6 originals in print, size: between 5cm*5cm and 10cm*10cm)
  • Category of the proposed Trademark (and choose 10 sub-categories)

Here is a list of documents a person needs to submit while applying for Trademark in China:

  • 1 x copy of the passport of applicant
  • Mailing address in both English and Chinese.
  • Signature by the applicant
  • Print and digital version of proposed Trademark (6 originals in print, size: between 5cm*5cm and 10cm*10cm)
  • Category of the proposed Trademark (and choose 10 sub-categories)

Your Trademark registration provided to the CTO should also contain:

  1. A copy of your company’s certificate of incorporation
  2. A company name and address (both in English and Chinese)
  3. A Signature by your company’s director (or the applicant)
  4. A printed or digital version of the proposed Trademark
  5. A category of the proposed Trademark (can choose 10 subcategories)

According to the Chinese Trademark Office (CTMO), China receives the maximum number of Trademark applications in the world. The Trademark related disputes are quite common China, that’s why it is always a good idea to have a China lawyer with you to sort things up for you.

Before filing for Trademark registration in China, foreign companies and individuals need to keep the following things in mind:

  1. Companies should conduct a preliminary search at the China Trademark Office to determine if a similar mark is already registered.
  2. Get an intellectual property agent/attorney to do the filing for you. Keep in mind that China Trademark Registration Office only accepts documents submitted in the Chinese language.
  3. There are altogether 42 classes of Trademarks in China. You have to submit your application for at least one of the classes.
  4. Upon submission of all the necessary documents to the China Trademark Office, the Office would review the documents for compliance.
  5. After a preliminary examination, if the Trademark Office is satisfied that the mark applied for registration is not similar or identical to existing registered marks, it will grant a preliminary approval and will publish the mark in the preliminary examination gazette.

How long it will take to get the approval of your China Trademark-

After about three months, you’ll receive notice from the Trademark office that they have received your application. If within the period of three months following its publication there is no opposition filed against its registration, or the opposition filed is decided not justifiable. From conducting the preliminary investigation to granting you the approval, the total time will exceed more than 18 months. When your Trademark has been approved, you’ll receive notice from the Trademark office inviting you to visit to collect your Trademark registration certificate.

Validity period and renewal process of your Trademark in China-

The period of validity of a registered Trademark shall be ten years, counted from the date of approval of the registration. Where the Trademark registrant intends to continue to use the registered Trademark beyond the expiration of the period of validity, an application for renewal of the registration shall be made within six months before the said expiration. Where no application therefore has been filed within the said period, a grace period of six months may be allowed, yet extra fees shall be charged for the delay of renewal. If no application has been filed at the expiration the grace period, the registered Trademark shall be canceled. The period of validity of each renewal of registration shall be ten years.

China lawyers advise clients to check the period of validity on the Trademark registration certificate and apply for Trademark renewal in time. After all, the make-up afterward is troublesome and the hassle can be avoided if an application for Trademark renewal is made in time.

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