Are you planning to export your products overseas? Before you do that, have you done the basic preparations, such as registering for a trademark? If not yet, then you should file and do it immediately.
Trademark registration should be the first step an exporter should take. Without a trademark, you cannot distribute your products overseas and they won’t be protected from business identity theft.
Besides, a piece of advice from a trademark lawyer is always appreciated: Unbeknown to most exporters, China is the first-to-file country in trademark registration. If other people use your ideas and products and register your trademark in China, they will get exclusive rights to your product.
Additionally, there are many factors you should consider about trademark registration in China, including the fees, process, trademark importance, and more. There are limited resources about these, though. Read on for a brief guide about everything you should know.
Why is having a trademark in China important? Again, the first country you should file your trademark in is China, and the other person who filed it first will have access to the exclusive rights for distributing and selling the product. That’s why registering for a trademark is crucial. Remember, even if you are the product creator, all your work will be useless if others secure a trademark before you.
You can’t sell in China through a local distributor as well if your products have not yet been registered. This means the work of the original creator is still valued.
What is the process of trademark registration in China? The entire process of registration takes more time than you expect. Here are the six primary steps you need to do when you apply for a trademark in China:
The very first thing you need to do is verify if the trademark you are applying for is already registered or not. If it is, then you have a big problem. It may be because of ‘trademark squatters’ who registered your products to profit from them. Some exporters even pay a hefty amount to get back their trademark.
Fill up the application form and submit it with other necessary documents, such as the power of attorney, instruction letter, copies of certificates, priority documents, and special certificates. You will submit these to State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC), which handles and processes all the submitted papers.
After you submit your documents to SAIC, they will review your application and inform you whether additional documents are needed.
If you pass the review, you’ll need to wait about 12 months to complete the initial registration process.
After the previous step, you’ll wait for another two months for the approval and issuance of the trademark.
Lastly, you may need to wait two months more to receive the certificate of approval.
As you can see, the registration process may take over a year. Therefore, it would be best to finish the registration process before entering the Chinese market.
How much does registration cost in China? The usual fees you need to pay when you register for a trademark in China are as follows:
The initial verification of the trademark may cost around USD$120.
The registration fee and lawyer’s fee may cost around USD$1000.
Additional government processing may cost around USD$100.
These may sound a bit extravagant, but the results may guarantee you a significant return on investment.
How long is the validity of the trademark? Both international and local trademarks may be valid for 10 years. However, you need to apply for renewal six months before the expiration date to extend the trademark for another 10 years.
Moreover, you must use the registered product and keep it circulated within three years, or else you will lose its trademark.
What Will Happen If You Fail To Renew The Trademark On Time?
Failure to renew on time would mean the cancellation of your trademark. Unfortunately, there are cases of forgotten validity dates. Because of this, the trademark owner will have to file again from the beginning, which is more expensive than trademark renewal.
To prevent this from happening, make sure to file for renewal application six months in advance and always check your product’s validity date.
Final words Many exporters don’t know the importance of filing a trademark registration in China. Failure to register a trademark on time may result in someone else doing it instead, so they’ll have full authority and rights over your product. They can sell and distribute it across the nation, and the potential income may be gone in an instant.
The registration process may take between 16 and 24 months. Therefore, it would be best to apply before you enter the Chinese market. If you’re not a Chinese citizen, a local agent will have to help you process your documents, as they should be in Chinese characters.
Furthermore, you’ll need a lawyer for full approval, especially someone with expertise in international trading and its accompanying laws.