Registering your trademark in China is a long and time-consuming process. According to the China Trademark Office, it takes typically nine months for processing your trademark, but the reality is it takes more than a year and in some cases even longer. China trademark registration undergoes formal examination and substantive examination on absolute and relative grounds within nine months from the date of receiving the application documents for trademark registration.
China’s First-to-File Trademark Registration Process–
China is a “first-to-file” country which means that the person who registers a trademark for a product, will also have all exclusive rights to distribute and sell the product. You won’t, unless you register the trademark first. The fact is that it’s practically impossible to engage in the Chinese market long term, without registering your trademark.
The Trademark Database-
The trademark search is based on the public trademark database of CTMO, any search activities that processed in China are all based on that database. This database is comprised of all active and many inactive marks that were either applied-for or registered pursuant to the current Trademarks Act or former trade-mark legislation of China. The database includes additional words and designs which are not by definition trademarks, but that are protected by the Trademarks Act or other related legislation.
Conducting China Trademark Search–
While conducting China trademark search, do keep in mind that three-dimensional symbols or combinations of colors also qualify for China trademark application for registered trademarks in China. However, certain words or symbols, like countries names, international organizations names and symbols (UNESCO, United Nations) cannot be registered as trademarks.
The Validity of China Trademark–
From the date of registration, ten years is the valid period. 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. If you go to renew the trademark after the grace period, you have to pay extra charges for the renewal. Your trademark may be subject to cancellation if it has not been used within the continuous period of 3 years from the date of registration.
If the trademark application is in compliance with the relevant provisions of the Chinese Trademark Law, the application is preliminarily approved and published. Within a period of 3 months from the date of the publication, any person may file an opposition against a Chinese trademark application.