China’s new trademark law came into effect this month. Some of the highlights are as follows:
1.) Trademark registrations are now supposed to take no more than 9 months from the date of filing. Previously they could take up to two years.
2.) You can register a trademark in many categories with just one application now. Previously you had to file a separate application for each category you were registering your trademark in. The new law will now save you time and money.
3.) Use of well-known trademarks is banned. This probably comes after complaints by big companies like Starbucks, Apple etc who over the years have seen their trademarks watontoly used by Chinese companies. It will be interesting to see how this plays out because these knock offs of global brands are part of the landscape in every big Chinese city it seems. And in plenty of small cities as well.
4.) The new law affords protection for unregistered trademarks in a business relationship. If I am sourcing in China for a product and I want to apply my unregistered trademark to the product, no one whom I deal with in China can take that trademark and register it before I do.
Of course enforcing these new laws will prove much more difficult than merely putting them down on paper. And the process for going after violators will be time consuming and costly. I am sure. So don’t be fooled into thinking that your IP in China now is hunky dory safe. I think you still have to be careful. However, I do see the new law as a huge step in the right direction and I think the Chinese Govt should be applauded for this. Remember China is a country that did not have its first trademark law until 1982. In contrast the US started to implement trademark legislation in the 1870s.
Change is good, I like to say.