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China Trademark Registration 101

Create Time 2018-09-06 10:09    Views:783

As the world’s largest trademark filer for 17 consecutive years, China has a total number of trademark applications of 27.842 million in the year of 2017. If you wish to enter the Chinese market or are already doing business in the country, it is important to register and enforce your trademark rights in China.

Unlike registering a trademark in the United States, registering a trademark in China holds some interesting distinctions. One of which is China being a "first-to-file" country, meaning that whoever files a trademark application first will generally have priority over a prior user of the trademark; and there is no difference between in-use and intend-to-use applications. As such, a company can register your trademark even though you were the first to use the mark.

On top of that, trademark applications in China do not require specimens to prove use which makes registering a trademark a lot easier than in the United States. The rare occasion where proof of use is needed only happens when an applied-for mark receives an Office Action. In such cases, a China trademark examiner would ask for proof to supplement the existing application. The applicant would then have 15 days to file a Response to Office Action (ROA) since the date the representing agent in China received it. Nevertheless, specimens can be supplied later if it is within 3 months after the ROA was submitted. Therefore, applying for trademark protection early is critical to secure your brand in China and to help you avoid “trademark squatters” stealing your trademark name.

Steps to register a trademark in China

When you apply to register for a trademark in China, there are the steps your application would go through and they are:

  1. Conduct a clearance search to check if the trademark is already registered. Remember the blind search period – duration which there is no available information about preceding marks that were filed before you is 3 months.
     

  2. Submit the application and the necessary documents to the China Trademark Office
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  3. China Trademark Office reviews the completeness of your application. This initial review period is around 2-3 months.
     

  4. If the application is incomplete or complementing documents are needed, you will receive a notice from the China Trademark Office and have 2 months to supply the materials for your application. 
     

  5. Once the application is complete, the trademark office issues an approval notice for the initial review informing applicant about acceptance of his trademark application. This stage usually takes 3 months.
     

  6. A trademark examiner can now be assigned to your case and perform a substance review. This process normally takes 6 months.
     

  7. If your trademark application is approved, it would then go through a 3-month publication period.
     

  8. If no one objects to the registration, then your trademark will be officially registered in the China trademark database, and you will receive a paper certificate after 2 months.

Remember, registering a trademark is a lengthy process in general and this includes China. The process on average could take around 14 months, so start the application well in advance and avoid any unpleasant surprise when starting your business in China. If you’re a foreign applicant, you’re obliged to work with a local trademark agent who will help you to register the trademark.

To learn more about how you can register your trademark in China, submit a trademark search request on our China Trademark page and our trademark expert will be happy to help.

Disclaimer:  This website is not intended to offer legal advice or to be a substitute for a consultation on a case by case basis with an attorney.  The information provided above is meant for informational purposes only and may be subject to change. 

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