With Proper Guidance from Lawyers Safeguard your IP in China

China has become one of the world’s major IP jurisdictions. Innovation and IP protection have been encouraged by the Chinese government. Foreign companies can register IP in China for trademarks, patents, designs, and copyright. With the right guidance from IP lawyers, safeguard your company’s intellectual property in China and increase your company’s valuation.

China has consciously sought to fulfill its international obligations in intellectual property rights protection, endeavoring to bring its intellectual property protection level near the new international standards. China has taken many major measures to further raise its current level of intellectual property rights protection. Chinese have taken the art of IP infringement to a new level and given the recent US-China trade escalation; foreign companies need to take a more cautious approach in reducing their IP threat in China.

The failure to protect intellectual property in China may put your business at a competitive disadvantage and could reduce your company’s valuation. The owner of a copyright has the exclusive right to reproduce copyrighted work. These works include original literary works, computer programs, musical works, and audiovisual works. Some intellectual property is best protected by keeping quiet about it. If your work is not patentable, or you prefer to protect it using the trade secrets law, limit the number of people you tell about it.


Are there any benefits from a pre-filing use of the trademark?

The benefits from a pre-filing use are minimal since rights are obtained via registration. However, the applicant can use this to demonstrate the mark’s distinctiveness and overcome opposition on the ground of non-distinctiveness.


What are the phases of application after a trademark has been filed in China?

Three phases are there:

  1. Examination
  2. Publication
  3. Registration


China has become one of the world’s major IP jurisdictions. Innovation and IP protection have been encouraged by the Chinese government. Foreign companies can register IP in China for trademarks, patents, designs, and copyright. However, each of these is administered by a different government body. The primary law in China pertains to copyright. This protects copyrighted works of foreigners that are either first published in China or in countries that are signatories to the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) copyright protection treaty.


The first type of intellectual property right is a trade secret. All inventions generally start as a trade secret of the inventor. Inventors have an instinctual desire to keep their ideas secret. To market your invention, you should protect your idea with one or more of the other types of intellectual property rights: patents, trademarks, and copyrights.


IP is divided into two categories: Industrial property includes but is not limited to patents for inventions, trademarks, industrial designs, and geographical indications. Copyright covers literary works like novels, poems and plays, films, music, and artistic works, for example, drawings, paintings, photographs, sculptures, website pages, and architectural design. Protecting intellectual property in China is a complex duty with aspects that fall under the purview of legal, IT, human resources, and other departments. Appointing IP lawyers is a good decision as they can easily unify intellectual property protection efforts. IP attorneys can play a major role in the smooth operation of your business in China.

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Revealing the Best Ways to Protect Intellectual Property in China

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Intellectual property (IP) rights are valuable assets for your business – possibly among the most important it possesses. To be successful in China, the US and the European firms should develop an integrated IP protection strategy that reflects the nature and extent of the IP problems they face while operating in China.

You wouldn’t like it if someone were to use your idea or concept without your permission, especially when the motive is profiting. This applies to both large-scale and small-scale businesses. Protecting your intellectual property helps retain the company resources. An organization that owns IP can realize value from it in several ways, namely through utilizing it internally—for its own processes or provision of goods and services to customers—or sharing it externally.


Revealing the best ways to protect intellectual property in China


Register your IP rights in China

In order to enforce IP in China, foreign firms are required to register their IP in China. Mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan all have separate legal systems. Protection in each territory requires a separate registration. If you want protection in these territories, you will need to register your IP rights in these territories. China Trademark Office is a Shanghai-based Chinese government approved agency dealing with IP.  You can search the Trademark gazette here, and also file applications (if you have a business registration in China).


IP Enforcement

IP enforcement is carried out at the state level and at various local levels by the provincial and municipal IP authorities. You may wish to consult a qualified IP professional who is familiar with the legal system in China to explore the various enforcement mechanisms available.


Register with China Customs

Foreign businesses need to separately register their IP and trademark with Chinese customs.  While all types of IP can be registered with Chinese Customs, you may have the most success with trademarks and design patents because it is easier for Customs to determine infringement.


While the Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou IP courts and the IP tribunal of the Supreme People’s Court can only adjudicate civil and administrative IP cases, the specialized regional IP tribunals can adjudicate civil, administrative and criminal IP cases. It is the Chinese government’s view that the intellectual property protection system plays a significant role in promoting progress in science and technology, enriching the culture and developing the economy.

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