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Protecting a trademark is one of the most important considerations that a business would have upon being registered as a legal entity. China is flourishing by leaps and bounds, with ample companies launching now and then.
The concept of online businesses, multiple variations of products, and reaching out to clients through different business models is a journey embarked on by Chinese businesses. However, in this rat race, the protection of trademarks needs serious attention from every business entity that owns one.
As much as businesses are flourishing on their own, it has also been observed that many companies copy the work and products of others for their own success. Apart from this, sometimes businesses even make such mistakes in their trademarks that they cannot survive with them or have them appropriately registered.
Trademarks can be protected in various ways, and if someone violates and copies your brand, you can take multiple actions against them. If you have a detailed understanding of this subject, you can enforce your rights smartly.
Hence, if you are new to the Chinese business regime and looking forward to ways that may help you protect your trademark in China, you are in the right place. Our tips in this guide will provide you with a means of detailed understanding. So, let’s go through this guide and gain some understanding.
Exploring Trademark Laws in China
When looking into the protection of your trademark in China, the first thing you should know and understand is the laws and regulations of the trademark of China.
The trademark laws in China are governed by the Trademark Law of the People’s Republic of China. The Chinese government update its intellectual property laws rather frequently, makes efforts to strengthen them with each update and incorporate them in the registration process of trademarks. These laws are revised and updated every few years so that business interests may be protected in the best possible way.
The trademark system in China operates based on first filing, which means that the person who first applies for the trademark would get a chance to obtain legal rights to use that trademark and it becomes a priority to block similar later-filed trademarks from registration.
The trademark system of China is different in many ways compared to other countries; for instance, in the US, trademark registration is carried out at the state or federal levels. However, in China, it is done at the national level.
The registration process for a trademark in China takes about 7 to 9 months if no other complications are involved during the process; however, there are other countries that take far less than this.
China is very strict with its trademark laws, and every business must abide by them. If any infringement occurs upon a registered trademark, the business entity that owns the right to the infringed trademark has the right to enforce against the infringers.
Things to Do Before Trademark Registration
Before you file for trademark registration, there are a few things that you must do, and these are discussed below; these considerations will help you to register your trademark in a convenient way which is one of the essential aspects of your business:
Carrying out Some Research
Before you plan to file your application for trademark registration, make sure to carry out a trademark search. By doing this, you will be able to know better whether someone has the trademark you have chosen or not.
By conducting this search, you can save time later. You can use an online Trademark Search engine, or you can even hire an agent to do this job for you.
Selection of Trademark Agent
Lawyers need to work with a trademark agent who has a pre-set reputation. The entire registration process for a trademark could be navigated through a trademark agent. They are equipped with relevant knowledge and always share essential advice that helps you meet the registration requirements.
However, it is always suggested to hire a trademark agent who has a license and needs to gain experience in your industry.
There are certain documents that you need to prepare beforehand when you are registering your trademark in China, and some of these documents are as follows:
- It would help if you had a power of attorney authorizing your trademark agent to register it on your behalf.
- Your business license and some legal documents allow you to register a trademark legally.
- Goods and services for which you will use the trademark must be provided in detail so you can register your trademark in the right class(es).
- The trademark copy is usually filed in black and white color for broader protection.
Always ensure that your documents are in Chinese; if you have your business outside China, you will need to have a translated copy of documents in Chinese.
If you consider exercising all these steps, you will be able to ensure that the registration application process is all set. This way, the chance of a successful registration also increases.
How to File Chinese Trademark Registration
If you are planning to file for your trademark registration in China, then there is a series of steps that you need to follow, and these are provided below:
Submission of Form
The first step to start with is filling out and submitting the form for trademark registration. Some of the essential details you will need along with this form include your name and address as an application, an appropriately represented trademark, one or more classes along with a detail on the goods and services you will like to be protected under this trademark.
If you have any priority claim, you will have to provide a proof of that priority and the date you will first use your trademark, followed by trademark agent’s submission of that priority claim with the Chinese trademark office (“CTMO”) for approval.
Make sure to fill out the form using accurate, appropriate details, as this form is the base of your trademark registration.
Submission of Fee
You must pay the registration filing fee once you have filled out the form. The fee charged for registration depends on the number of goods and services the business offers.
Hence, registration fee may be varied and you will get to know this when you submit the form for trademark registration.
Once you submit the application with the form and fee, the CTMO will examine it. They will check whether or not your registration meets the requirements. This examination takes about three to four months to explore the application.
The examination process may also be subjected to refusals by the CTMO, and you may need to submit additional details or documents if you believe your trademark should not be refused. Hence, it is important for you to always respond to such requests with prompt responses so that your registration process can survive, because once a deadline is passed there is no remedy but to submit a new application.
Trademarks chosen by you are published in the Trademark Gazette after it is preliminarily approved. This publication will be there for a span of three months, and during these three months, any other parties may oppose it if they think that their rights are infringed.
In cases where no opposition or unsuccessful oppositions occur, the trademark registration will be complete, and you will get a trademark registration certificate.
There are many grounds on which the rejection may occur, including conflicts with already registered or pending trademarks, in case of infringement of morality or public order, creating confusion with other trademarks, or showing a false connection with another entity.
Hence, to make the trademark registration process successful, it is very important to conduct thorough trademark search and choose a unique trademark so that your registration process may be successful.
Protecting Trademark in China
It is very important that you look forward to ways to protect your trademark in China once you have successfully obtained a trademark registration, there are different ways you can do this, and some of them are as follows:
Conduct Regular Monitoring
One of how you can protect your trademark in China is by carrying out regular monitoring. You need to keep an eye on the database of the CTMO so that you may get to know about any later-filed trademark that is identical or similar to you registered trademarks. If you find identical or similar trademarks being filed by other parties, you may consider filing an opposition against it.
You can also take services from a professional to keep track of the trademark, and if any violations occur, they may alert you instantly.
This monitoring should also be carried out over online marketplaces as they hold many businesses showcasing their products and services.
Enforcing Trademark Rights
In China, you can also protect your trademark through enforcement and consistently enforce your trademark rights by sending demand letters to infringers. You may also need to file complaints and take legal action.
This needs to be done with the help of an experienced attorney with sufficient professional skills to guide you in your best interest.
Many businesses must realize they can exercise their right because that is the protection offered by registering the trademark. Hence, it should be utilized in the best interest of the business.
Filing of Lawsuit in Case of Infringement
If your trademark has been infringed, you can file a legal case. This could be done in a Chinese court, but in case of legal action, you might have to go through a lengthy process which will also cost you a lot.
So, before you get through this, look for other ways to settle and keep it as your last resort. Sometimes, infringers remove your trademark after receiving a demand letter from you, and there is no need for legal action.
Registering Business Trademark in Chinese Characters
One very important way of protecting your trademark in China is to register it using Chinese characters. This helps protect it in the local Chinese market because people can recognize and know about your brand.
You can also have a Chinese name for your brand in addition to the English one to make your brand more appealing to Chinese customers.
Also, ensure that you monitor the online marketplaces because many platforms tend to carry out online counterfeiting in China.
Keeping an eye on everything is very important after registering your trademark because then only you can figure out whether someone is copying your trademark.
Mistakes to Avoid when Protecting Trademark in China
When registering your trademark in China, there are inevitable mistakes that you should avoid, which may comprise the following so that you may have a smooth registration process.
- In case if you fail to register your trademark on time, you may have to face the consequences because trademark registration in China is the first to file system. In case the same trademark application is given by someone else before you, you won’t be able to use this. So, to avoid it, file the application for your trademark registration as early as possible, preferably at the time of you launching you brand in your home country.
- One of the major mistakes many businesses make is that they did not have their trademarks registered, and assume to gain legal protection by just by using them. However, this is not the case; no matter how long you have been using a particular trademark, you must register it officially to get protection.
- If you have registered your trademark and need to monitor it, you may be unable to determine if someone else is using it. You should keep an eye on trade shows, online marketplaces, and all such sources where possible to monitor. By doing this, you will be able to find out if such infringement is happening, and also you will be able to take action against it.
- If you are monitoring your trademark and have registered it, another right you should exercise is the enforcement right. You must keep yourself prepared that upon detecting any infringement, you will need to take legal action against it by carrying out different means of warning the integers.
Trademark registration is one of the very important steps every business should take to protect their rights in the future.
However, after going through the guide above, you must have understood the significance of registering your trademark and how to protect it.
Although the registration process is long, the entire waiting time is worth opting for. Hence you will be able to ensure that your trademark is protected. So, carefully go through the details shared in this guide and get your trademark registered today.
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