As the second largest economic entity in the world, China has a broad market, and the Chinese market is becoming an important role player/catalyst in the global trade. Does the question arise whether companies need to register their trademarks in China? And if they do, why?
The following introduction to the current situation of trademark filing in China may help you decide on Chinese trademarks.
China adopts First-to-File system. It means that the company/individual who files the application first, gets the registration. To get a registration the use of the trademark is not necessary. Thus, filing a trademark application in China as soon as possible is highly recommended.
2. Money spent BEFORE saves money AFTER
As the Chinese market remains growing, especially with the fast development of e-commerce, Chinese consumers have more chances and various ways to know foreign brands and buy foreign products.
Some opportunists take this chance to apply for trademark applications of foreign brands in a rush. There is a specific word describing this, it’s called “trademark squatting”. Trademark squatters register international brands in China anticipating their entry into China. Once they really enter China, the squatters try to sell the trademarks back to the brand owner to earn profits. Some trademark squatters even use the reputation of the international brand to establish their own companies and make a profit on the original brand’s value.
If you lose the advantage of prior filing, there will be not only the risk of trademark infringement but also a lengthy battle against the squatting, which may last for years. Below is the estimated time for the procedures against the squatting:
12~18 months for opposition
9~12 months for cancellation based on non-use for consecutive three years
9~12 months for review of cancellation based on non-use for consecutive three years
12~18 months for invalidation
The battle against the squatting is not only time consuming, but also costly, and the result is not always satisfying. In the end, you need to pay a high cost to buy your trademark back. While an early application may help you avoid all the above consequences.
3. The earlier the application is filed, the higher the chance of it getting registered
In recent years, with the development of the market, the number of trademark applications in China increased rapidly. In 2017, there were over 5.74 million trademark applications filed in China. In the first nine months of this year, the amount of trademark applications is 5.5 million. By the end of September of 2018, the total amount of trademark applications in China is 17,181,000. China has consistently ranked first in the world in the volume of trademark applications for many years.
Such a large number of prior existing trademarks makes the later application difficult to be exempt from similarity conflict. Thus, if you file your trademark application earlier, you will have a higher chance to get the registration.
Don’t forget that if you rely on your domestic trademark, you can claim priority from your first filed application – it means that your Chinese application will backdate to the date your first trademark application was filed. But remember you have to file within 6 months of the original date of filing in your native country.
4. Easy application and low price
China government pays a lot of attention to the Intellectual Property (IP) field and releases many policies and measures to encourage market entities to file IP applications.
To apply for trademark application in China, there is no need to provide evidence of use. You just need to submit the application form and business license or passport to show the existence status. It is very easy and not many formalities exist.
The cost of a trademark application in China is also low. You only need to pay CNY 300 (appr. USD 48) of official fee and certain attorney fees.