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China Trademark Registration System

1.       Trademark Registration Authority

Trademark Office of National Intellectual Property Administration

2.       Signed International Treaties for Trademarks

Paris Convention; Madrid Agreement; Madrid Protocol; Nice Agreement

3.       Principles for Trademark Protection

Registration principles. Article 3 of the Trademark Law stipulates that “A registered trademark means a trademark that has been approved and registered by the Trademark Office. The trademark registrant shall enjoy an exclusive right to use the trademark, which shall be protected by law.” This indicates that the right to exclusive use of a registered trademark is obtained by registration. If the registered trademark is used by others without authorization/license, the trademark owner can directly raise a trademark infringement action. If an unregistered trademark is applied for registration by others in bad faith, the original trademark owner is entitled to raise an opposition within the announcement period but has no right to file infringement action. Further, if an unregistered well-known trademark is used by someone else without authorization/license and cause misleading, the original trademark owner can raise an action under the Anti-Unfair Competition Law.

First-to-file principles. According to Article 31 of Trademark Law, if two or more applicants apply for the registration of identical or similar trademarks for the same or similar goods, the preliminary approval and the publication shall be made for the trademark which was first filed. It shows China adopts “first-to-file” principle to protect the first application for trademark registration.

4.       Types of Registered Trademarks

In China, any logo that can distinguish the products/services from others can apply for registration, including text, graphics, letters, numbers, 3D signs, colour combinations, sounds, and combinations of the above elements. In addition, special trademarks are also protected, such as certification trademarks, collective trademarks.

5.       Required Application Documents

Applicant’s name, address and nationality/ Company’s name, registered address and country;
A clear graphical representation of the trademark;
An applicant’s main qualification and certification materials (e.g.: certificate of incorporation or business license and passport for natural person)
A description of the trademark;
Contact information of the applicant (the applicant outside Mainland China shall designate a Mainland receiver to be responsible for receiving the legal documents of the Trademark Office);
A signed Power of Attorney (if applicant authorizes an agency);
Priority documents (when priority is claimed).

6.       Timeframe and Procedures for Application

If an application goes smoothly, it takes around 12-18 months from filing the application to registration. Among the whole process, it takes 9-12 months for examination and if there is no objection raised by Trademark Office, the trademark will then be published for 3 months. If no opposition is filed, a registration certificate will be issued within 1-2 months after the end of publication.

7.       Term and Renewals

The trademark registration in China is valid for 10 years from the date of the registration, which can be renewed every 10 years. If the registrant would like to extend the trademark protection period, a request for renewal shall be made within 12 months before the expiry date. Where no request has been filed within the said period, a grace period of 6 months may be allowed. If the request is not filed within the grace period, the registration will be cancelled.

8.       Non-use Cancellation

If a registered trademark has not been formally used in China by the owner or licensee on the goods/services for which it is registered for a continuous period of at least 3 years, any third party shall have the right to apply for cancellation of a registered trademark.

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