Filing a trademark to protect your intellectual property is an incredibly important step to take no matter where you want to conduct business. Since every country’s trademark laws differ, Incorp China has compiled interesting facts you should be aware of before filing your trademark in Mainland China:
Think of it as a first-come-first-serve basis. Whoever files the trademark first owns rights to the idea. A good example is the iPad-scandal in 2012 that cost Apple $60 million. Proview Technology had filed a trademark for the name “iPad” in China. Hence Apple was not legally able to sell the iPad2 under that name. For more info on the case, Reuters Shanghai (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-apple-china/apple-pays-60-million-to-settle-china-ipad-trademark-dispute-idUSBRE86104320120702) wrote a great piece on this.
Facit: Early filing is paramount. File a trademark before you go ahead with business.
2. Trademark Applications Take Time
The duration for approving a trademark in China can take between 9-24 months. But don’t despair – once your trademark is approved it will be valid for the next 10 years from the date of registration.
Facit: Plan ahead – this doesn’t mean you cannot go ahead with your everyday business but beware of your business’ liability.
3. Use Requirements
Not using your trademark for three consecutive years from the date of registration in Mainland China might make it subject to cancellation. There are no use requirements beyond that.
Facit: If you invest in a trademark use it sooner rather than later.
4. Your Brand Name Is Your Wealth
register your trademark in both English and in Chinese text (e.g. the name of the product). Registering your brand or product name in Chinese will ensure that Chinese consumers will remember your product’s name better. Even more importantly though, if you don’t register a Chinese name, someone else could register a Chinese translation of it and therefore trick customers into believing their product is affiliated with your brand. Think of the American brand New Balance and it’s fake Chinese counterparts: New Bunren, New Barlun, New Bailon, and many more.
Look at what happened with basketball legend Michael Jordan vs the knockoff brand Qiaodan: https://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/07/business/international/china-michael-jordan-trademark-lawsuit.html
Facit: Your brand name goes beyond a pretty logo – protect your reputation by owning the legal rights to your Chinese name as well.
5. Divide and Conquer
Incorp China advises its clients to apply for the English and Chinese trademark separately. That way, even if one application is rejected, the other one will not be influenced.
Facit: Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.
6. Color Theory
Most logos are colorful. Submitting your trademark application in a certain color, however, will limit your use of the trademark to that single color. In practice, this means that if you trademark your logo in red you will not legally be able to stop other people from using your logo in the color green. Hence, we strongly suggest our clients send us a digital copy of their logo in back and white. The trademark protection will then cover all colors.
Facit: For your logo to apply to all color schemes, submit it in black and white.
Like what you read? Why not call us (+1 (561) 729 6508) or email us ([email protected]) for a free consultation. Let your paperwork be dealt with by experts on the ground.
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