Trademark Registration in China Explained. Part 1
Trademark Registration in China
In China, trademarks are registered with the China National Intellectual Property Administration (CNIPA). The registration process involves submitting an application with the CNIPA, which will examine the application and determine whether the trademark is eligible for registration.
The eligibility of a trademark for registration in China is determined by several factors, including the distinctiveness of the mark, whether it is already in use by another party in China, and whether it violates any Chinese laws or regulations.
Once a trademark is registered in China, it is protected under Chinese law, and the owner of the trademark has exclusive rights to use the mark in connection with the goods or services for which it is registered.
How do I protect my brand in China?
If you are doing business in China, it is essential to protect your brand and products through trademark registration. Failure to do so can lead to serious consequences, including infringement of your trademark rights by third parties, loss of market share, and even legal disputes.
Trademark registration in China follows a 'first-to-file' system, which means that the first person or entity to register a trademark has exclusive rights to use that trademark. In contrast, in the US and some other countries, trademark rights are granted to the first person or entity to use a trademark in commerce.
Therefore, it is essential to register your trademark in China as early as possible, even before you start selling your products in the Chinese market. Failing to register your trademark in China can leave you vulnerable to infringement by competitors.
Trademark Classes in China
In China, trademarks are classified into 45 classes based on the type of goods or services they represent. It is essential to choose the appropriate class for your trademark to ensure that you are protected for the specific goods or services you offer. For example, if you are a clothing brand, you should register your trademark in class 25, which covers clothing, footwear, and headgear.
Trademark Infringement in China
Trademark infringement in China is a widespread problem. Companies operating in China must remain vigilant in protecting their trademarks to prevent counterfeiters and infringers from copying their products.
Trademark infringement can take many forms, including:
- Copying the trademark and logo of a well-known brand.
- Using a similar trademark or logo to a well-known brand.
- Using a similar brand name to a well-known brand.
- Using a similar product design to a well-known brand.
- Using a similar slogan or marketing message to a well-known brand.
Trademark infringement in China can result in severe consequences for infringers, including financial penalties and even criminal prosecution.
How to protect your trademark in China?
To protect your trademark in China, you should take the following steps:
- Register your trademark in China as early as possible.
- Monitor the market for any infringement of your trademark.
- Take prompt legal action against infringers to protect your rights.
- Work with local lawyers who have experience in trademark law in China.
Trademark infringement cases in China
Several high-profile trademark infringement cases have taken place in China in recent years. Here are some examples:
In 2017, New Balance won a landmark trademark infringement case in China against three domestic companies that were found to be producing and selling counterfeit New Balance shoes. The court awarded New Balance $1.5 million in damages.
In 2012, Apple lost a trademark infringement case against a Chinese company called Proview, which claimed ownership of the "iPad" trademark in China. Proview had registered the "iPad" trademark in China in 2001, long before Apple launched its iPad in 2010. The court ruled that Apple had infringed on Proview's trademark and ordered Apple to pay $60 million in damages.
In 2016, basketball legend Michael Jordan won a trademark case in China against a Chinese company that had been using his name without permission. The court awarded Jordan $8.9 million in damages.
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