Do I need to do a trademark search before filing? If so, what procedures and fees apply?
Trademark searches are not required before filing an application, but they are highly advisable to reduce the risk of application rejection. An applicant may hire a trademark agent or agency to do trademark searches or conduct the search themselves. The specific procedures and fees are subject to the agent or agency. There are no fees for a self-conducted search.
What if I don’t do a trademark search?
If you do not conduct a thorough trademark search before applying for a China trademark registration, the application may suffer rejection due to the existence of identical or similar marks that were registered or filed before. A search makes you aware of those trademarks so that you can adjust your mark to avoid confusion before filing.
Why do I need an agent to analyze my search results?
Your search results can be hundreds of pages long (there are millions of trademarks filed in China every year) and determining whether a conflict exists between your and another party’s trademark requires a multi-factor analysis that isn't always straightforward. It is vital to have an experienced trademark agent carefully examine your search results and advise you on the likelihood of acceptance for your trademark application, so as to steer you clear of infringement lawsuits.
In what language should my trademark search be conducted?
For English marks which have Chinese meaning, you must also search for the Chinese meaning of the mark. This is an essential part of the official examination. In most cases, if the Chinese meaning is similar to or registered as a trademark by another company, your English mark will be refused by the China Trademark Office.
What types of searches are available?
The trademark search types in China include searches for: Chinese Characters, Chinese Pinyins, English letters, numbers, acronyms and graphics that could be used in a trademark.
When your trademark is an English word that has a corresponding meaning in Chinese, you must search for the Chinese character that represents that word.
In what language should I file my trademark in China?
Chinese consumers prefer to purchase the Chinese versions of the brand, because Chinese is their first language. If you don’t already have a Chinese name for your trademark, you are strongly advised to create one and register it. If not, the Chinese markets will create one for you—without your consent—and a third party might register that Chinese nickname for your product as you have not.
Does the China Trademark Office (CTMO) check for relative grounds for refusal (e.g through searches)
Yes, but the search is usually limited to whether there are any prior identical or similar trademarks applied to the same or similar goods or services.
How long does the examination period take?
The Trademark Office is mandated to complete the examination of a trademark application within nine months of the date of filing. However, this process can actually last from anywhere between 9 and 12 months on average due to backlog and any complications.
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