How do I register a trademark in China?

China’s legal system is still coming into its own, evolving out of a communist system which has only recently taken issues of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) seriously. China also has a world class production base at favorable pricing. Combine this with a rapidly growing economy and changing society where many are willing to do whatever is necessary to make a buck, and the resulting China marketplace (from a security standpoint) is full of indiscretions ranging from innocent reverse engineering to blatant knock-offs. Piracy of many copyrighted materials is widespread, and is widely noted in many western business publications that feature material about China. However, what is not often made apparent in the press is that registering IP in China is often strait forward and affordable. Plus, you need not be based in China to apply. I asked my friends at a local Shenzhen law firm (http://chinasourcinginfo.org/endorsed-service-provider) to give you a behind the scenes look at the steps and costs involved in registering a trademark in China.

Tip #1: Trademark your brand in China, even if there are no plans to sell the products in the PRC. Having done this, the court system is on your side should you face infringement by a supplier or competitor. From our experience at the CSIC, the Chinese court system generally favors the foreign party in these cases as China wants to show the world that they are living up to WTO commitments. But you have to play by the Chinese trademark system and that means having your brand registered in advance as China is a “first to register” rather than “first to market” system.

Tip #2: To save costs you can register the text (your brand name for example) and logo together in a single application. But if your budget allows, it is better to register them separately. The flexibility you get from separate registration is that you may use the logo mark and word mark separately, whilst for a combination mark you can only use them together.

Guide for Trademark Application in China

 

1. Required Documents

  1. Power of attorney (the lawyer should provide the template), in duplicate; with the company stamp or signature.
  2. Ten trademark specimens which should be clear and clean. Length and width no longer than 10cm and no shorter than 5cm; if claim color, 20 specimens in color and 1 specimen in black and white are required.
  3. Two copies of Business license or the identity certificate. The company signature which affix on the power of attorney should be the same with the name indicated on the Business license or the identity certificate.
  4. If the trademark is an image/portrait, a notarized statement of the owner of image/portrait is required.

2. Application Procedure

  1. File application (about 1 month)
  2. Formal examination (1~1.5 years)
  3. Substantial examination (1~2 months)
  4. Publication (3 months)
  5. Approved registration (1~2 months)
  6. Dispatch trademark registration certificate

3. Period of Validity

Ten years from the date of registration. An application for renewal of the registration shall be made within six months before the said expiration. If the registrant fails to make such an application within that period, an extension period of six months may be granted with additional charge. The period of validity of each renewal of registration shall be ten years. There is no limit for renewal’s times.

4. Fees (as of Spring 2011 for my friend’s law firm)

Item (per application) Government Fee Service Fee
Trademark RMB 1,000  (per class code with up to 10 sub-items, RMB100 per extra sub-item)  

RMB 5,800 (per class code with up to 10 sub-items, RMB100 per extra sub-item)

 

The above quote does not include translation costs (RMB 350 per 1000 Chinese characters) and bank handling fees which shall be borne by the client.

 



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