According to the Regulations of the P. R. China on Customs Protection of Intellectual Property Rights, an IPR holder may request the Customs to take protective measures for their IPRs in two modes of “Protection Ex Officio” or “Protection on Request”. At present, the IPRs protected by China Customs refer to the exclusive right to use trademark, copyright and copyright-associated rights, patent right, and exclusive right of Olympic symbols and that of World Expo symbols that are involved in import or export goods and protected by the laws and administrative regulations of the P. R. China.
Article 2 Customs protection of intellectual property rights in these Regulations means the protection provided by the Customs for the exclusive rights to use a trademark, copyrights and their related rights, and patent rights (hereinafter referred to as intellectual property rights) related to import or export goods and protected under the laws and administrative regulations of the People’s Republic of China.
Essential information for registering IP, trademark, copyright and/or patent with China customs–
>> A copy of your business license or certificate of incorporation (or other legal document confirming the existence your company). These documents must be in Chinese or translated into Chinese.
>> A copy of the Chinese registration certificate for your trademark, patent or copyright.
>> A Power of Attorney.
>> Pictures of the goods for which you are seeking protection and their packaging.
How to Record Trademarks with Customs in China
>> After all documents have been submitted, approval takes approximately 30 days.
>> Recordal lasts 10 years or the duration of the IP (whichever is shorter). During this time, we recommend you to maintain contact with key ports.
>> You must inform GACC of any changes to the recordal such as assignment to another party (i.e. change of owner), licensing, cancellation of the right etc.
>> Each individual trademark recordal costs RMB800. This can cover several products.
>> Companies registered in China can apply to GACC directly or entrust a domestic attorney to handle the registration. Companies without a registered China office must use an authorized domestic attorney.
If you register your IP with China Customs, they will contact you any time they discover a shipment of possibly infringing goods. At that point you have three working days to request seizure of the goods. Assuming you request seizure (and post a bond), Customs will inspect the goods. If Customs subsequently concludes the goods are infringing, they typically either donate the goods to charity (if the infringing mark can be removed) or destroy them entirely.
Depending on the different entities initiating the procedure, customs IP right protection can be divided into two types. One is ex-officio customs action or active protection. The other is passive protection where the IP right holder applies for detainment of the infringing products once finding any infringing products have been imported or exported.
Unlike European customs authorities which only focus on imported goods, the Chinese customs also examines goods leaving China and has the authority to protect intellectual property rights (IPR) by seizing infringing goods. Per the annual report published by the General Administration of Customs in China (GACC), Chinese customs detained thousands of consignments each year of suspected infringing products preventing them from being sold in external markets.