China Trademark Registration: Step by Step Guidance
Registering Your China Trademark – It's Never Too Early
Brand protection in China requires a thorough and complete strategy. The first and foremost action is to register your trademark in China trademark office (CTMO). There are two good reasons for that: first, China is a first-to-file country, as Chinese consumers have grown stronger taste for foreign goods, trademark squatting has become a profitable industry. Another reason for early trademark registration in China is to simply gain equal right against Chinese nationals in Chinese court. Having your trademark registered under the Madrid Convention doesn't help an international brand solve IP ownership issues in China.
Fortunately, trademark registration in China is relative simple and can be done in the following steps:
Step 1: Identify What to Register
The core protection you need to do business in China lies in your brand name and/or logo, and you should get them registered in both Chinese and English. As China differentiates image trademarks and text trademarks, you need, in most cases, register both separately.
Step 2. Select a Chinese Name for Your brand/products
International brands are usually discussed using a Chinese term among local consumers. As a result, a potentially valuable Chinese brand/product name is of vital business interest. Ideally, your Chinese name should be a good phonetic translation but at the same time culturally sensible. You should work with professional consultants to generate some great ideas.
Step 3. Narrow Down the Scopes of Business for Your China Trademark Registration
In China, each trademark filing has to apply to a specific business category, and local authority charges handing fees per registration. Therefore, it adds up set-up costs greatly when you want to protect your brand in China across the entire business range. You should work with professional consultants on your registration strategy.
Step 4. Choose a Chinese IP Lawyer
Only Chinese law firms can perform trademark registration with the China Trademark Office. Even major international law firms have to register through a local law firm. In this context, choosing the largest law firm in China (YINGKE law firm) can give you a peace of mind
Step 5. Feasibility search on China Trademark Office's database
Conduct a preliminary search of the CTMO's database, to confirm whether your trademark is valid for registration. Here validity contains two aspects:
1) is your name taken? If so, you have to deal with the trademark squatter. Here, having the largest law firm in China by your side gives your best chance to lower your financial cost getting your name back.
2) Is your name 'distinctive' enough? If your name is a 'general term', your chance of getting your trademark registration approved is very small. In this case, you definitely need to talk to a senior Chinese IP lawyer for solutions and backup plans.
Step 6. Initiate Your Trademark Registration in China
Prepare necessary documents, such as your Certificate of Incorporation and passport data pages for Directors, having them translated in Chinese, then you are good to initiate the process. The China Trademark Office will typically confirm acceptance or rejection within 30 days. If the registration is successful, Official certificates of trademark ownership will be issued within 6 to 8 months (although it can take up to 18 months).
Register early. Grow your business in China.