A trademark is a unique symbol or word(s) used to represent a business or its products. A trademark exclusively identifies a product as belonging to a specific company and recognizes the company’s ownership of the brand. Trademarks are generally considered a form of intellectual property. Thus, trademark registration in China is the most important part for the foreign businesses.
China was never an easy country for doing business. The Covid-19 situation, dwindling trade relationship between the US and China, and the global economic uncertainty will add to the difficulty of doing business over here. Foreign businesses need to be proactive in taking all the possible measures to safeguard their business interest while operating in China. Registering trademark in China should be the first priority for them.
Keep these points in mind while registering trademark in China–
- No trademarking of common or generic terms
- Use distinctive names
- Conduct a trademark search
- Register Chinese name of the trademark
- Quickly register your trademark with the China customs
The Chinese trademark law system is different from the U.S. federal trademark law system. In China you must register your trademark with the Chinese Trademark Office in order to protect your exclusive rights to that trademark in China.. The Chinese Trademark Law provides: “Any natural person, legal entity or other organization intending to acquire the exclusive right to use a trademark, including service mark, shall file an application for the registration of the trademark with the Trademark Office”.
Applying for a trademark is a crucial and an important step that’s often ignored or overlooked by exporters. 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. In China, the protection of the exclusive right to use a trademark is based on registration. Registration can be obtained either by filing an application directly at the CTMO (Domestic application), or by filing an application at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) on the basis of a trademark registered or applied in another country than China.
What rights does trademark registration provide?
A trademark not only gives the trademark owner the exclusive right to use the mark but also allows the owner to prevent others from using a similar mark that can be confusing for the general public. A trademarked name marks all of your products and services as yours and no one else’s and can also protect you from counterfeit products. In principle, a trademark registration in China will confer an exclusive right to the use of the registered trademark. This implies that the trademark can be exclusively used by its owner or licensed to another party for use in return for payment. Registration provides legal certainty and reinforces the position of the right holder, for example, in case of litigation.
China trademark registration provides value beyond your core business. Trademarks can appreciate in value over time. The more your business reputation grows, the more valuable your brand will be. Trademarks in China are valid for 10 years from the date of registration. Requests to renew must be filed within 6 months prior dates of expiration.