Why and how to register a trademark in China

China is a “first-to-file” jurisdiction, meaning that it is necessary to register a trademark in order to obtain proprietary rights over it.

 

Trademarks must be registered via the Trademark Office of the State Administration for Industry & Commerce of the People’s Republic of China.

China is also a member state to the Madrid Protocol. Thus, the extension of an international registration of a trademark via the Madrid System is possible for this country. For further information regarding our services for trademark filing through the Madrid System click here.

A registered trademark in China does not grant protection in Hong Kong or Macau. Visit our sections on these special administrative regions if you are interested in trademark registration in Hong Kong or trademark registration in Macau.

Taiwan, as an independent country, does not recognize chinese trademarks. Visit our section on Taiwan for further information regarding trademark registration in Taiwan.

It is not necessary for a trademark to be in use for it to register. Prior use of the trademark can nevertheless be helpful in order to overcome an objection on the grounds of lack of distinctiveness. Additionally, registered trademarks must be used within a period of three years after registration, otherwise they become vulnerable to cancellation on the basis of non-use.

After the trademark office’s examination has been completed, trademark applications are published for a period of three months during which interested third parties may file an opposition against it.

In China registered trademarks are valid for a period of ten (10) years from the registration date. They can then be renewed for subsequent ten-year periods indefinitely. The renewal of the trademark can be requested as early as six (6) months before the expiration date and as late as six (6) months after pending the payment of a late renewal fee.

Please note that in order to confer a trademark owner the right to use the trademark in any color combination the filed logo (device) for the application should be in black and white. If the logo (device) is presented in color, the owner will only be conferred the right to use the trademark in the colors of the filed logo (device). 

If you register a combined trademark (which includes both word elements and figurative elements) in China, the exclusive right to use the trademark is limited to a use of the trademark in the exact configuration or way in which it was filed and registered. If you wish to use the word element of your trademark separately from the logo (or vice versa), it is recommended you register for another trademark including only the word or figurative elements you wish to use and protect separately.

Nevertheless, if a third party eventually intends to register or use a trademark for similar goods or services that includes a primary or distinct part or portion of your trademark, you will have the right to oppose the application based on confusing similarity. Probabilities of success for an opposition will vary in each case depending on the circumstances. 

Please bear in mind that a significant number of people in China make their living by usurping foreign trademarks (AKA trademark squatters). Therefore, if China is a market that you are interested in entering in the future, either as a place to offer your goods and services, or manufacture the goods you wish to export, we HIGHLY RECOMMEND that you register your trademark.

If in the future you plan on selling your goods or offering your services inside the Chinese market, you should also register your trademark in Chinese characters.

For more information about trademark registration in China, including trademark squatters and the sub-class system, please read our article Trademarks and China – Preventing a Great Wall of Laments.

For trademark search reports the trademark must be composed of the Latin alphabet and will only consider other trademarks in the Latin alphabet. If you wish to register a trademark that is composed of Pinyin or Hanzi characters (Chinese writing) the trademark search must consider trademarks written in Pinyin or Hanzi characters (Chinese writing). Please contact us if this is the case, additional fees will apply.

 

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