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File trademark applications in advance

Unlike some other countries, which require, among other documentation, proof of use of a trademark in commerce before registration, CNIPA does not require the evidence of prior use in commerce.

Normally, the trademark registration process in China may take from 15 to 18 months or longer. Upon the registration of trademark, a trademark registration can be cancelled if it is not used for three consecutive years. That means the trademark applicant may have 4 to 5 years before it is required to show it is using its trademark or else be in the risk cancellation of its registration.

Therefore, even if a company does not have immediate plan to enter into the Chinese market, if its trademark is or is becoming well known, the company may consider filing in advance.

– The original mark together with the “sound-alike” version and unique meaning in Mandarin all need to be protected

Trademark squatters frequently infringe on a brand’s well-known mark by manipulating the form, sound or meaning of the mark, which make it possible for them to register confusingly similar marks of their own. Therefore, it is suggested to register three marks for each brand: original mark, “sound-alike” version together its Chinese translation.

Due to the complexity of Chinese language, direct Chinese transliterations may not make sense. The best practice in China is to convey the unique meaning of the brand in a manner of applying the appropriate cultural intelligence to ensure the brand’s meaning is not lost in translation, instead of describing the same literally or copying it phonetically.

Register marks in many classes

CNIPA adopts the single class filing system which means an applicant may need to file separate applications for the classes that he/she/it wishes to protect his/her/its trademarks.

Based on the 45 classes (“Classes”) under the International Classification of Goods and Services for the Purposes of the Registration of Marks (the “Nice Classification”), CNIPA further adopts multiple sub-classes, each of which contains a list of ‘standard items’ of goods and services.

When examining a trademark application, the CNIPA generally only cross checks an application against pre-existing identical or similar registered trademarks registered in identical sub-classes but not against pre-existing registered trademarks registered in other sub-classes, except where those sub-classes are explicitly cross-referenced as being similar.

Therefore, it is advisable to register marks in many classes and sub-classes to secure optimum protection and to allow room for future expansion.

-> This article may also be of interest to you : What is “well-known trademark” in China?

To know more, download our legal handbook related to the intellectual property rights legal regime in China …

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