For companies who want to sell to the Chinese market, it’s very important to look into protecting intellectual property in China. Unlike some countries, China does not provide protection for an unregistered trademark under the common law. China practices a "first to file" system for trademarks, meaning the right to a trademark goes to the first party who registers it. This principle allows any third-party, whether Chinese or a foreigner, to register any trademark in China, including the trademarks that you have created. Although you may be the first one to create and use a trademark in China, you will not be entitled to get it back if a third-party has registered it (unless it can be proven that the filing has been malicious). If you plan to do business in China now or in the future, our advice is to register your trademark first, before anything, to protect your IP and to avoid any future risks.
Trademark application to China’s Trademark Office (“CTMO”) for one mark in one class (with up to 10 designated goods or services and without claiming priority). This service also includes a formal search for one mark in one class to:
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Trademark registrations with China Trademark Office (“CTMO”) are valid for ten (10) years from the date of registration and are renewable at every ten-year interval thereafter. Renewal applications can be filed 12 months before the expiration date. For an additional fee, applicants can also file a renewal application for up to 6 months after the trademark’s expiration date.
It usually takes 9 to 12 months to obtain a trademark registration certificate from the China Trademark Office (“CTMO”). When an application is filed, the CTMO will first check its formalities, which includes the applicant’s information and the list of designated goods and services. Assuming everything is in order, the office will issue a formal filing receipt (recently, this has been taking about 3 months) and then begin the substantial examination. If the CTMO approves the application for registration, the mark will be published in the Trademark Gazette.
You will receive a checklist to prepare for the documents required. Normally, you will need to provide the applicant’s full name and address, signed Power of Attorney, applicant’s ID if you are applying as an individual or business license if a corporation, the mark and the desired registration class.