China, with its population of about 1.3 billion, is an attractive market to many businesses. Those who wants to join in the bandwagon to market their products in China should seriously look into the intellectual property protection in China. Unlike some countries, China do not provide protection for unregistered trademark under the common law. China practices “first to file” system for trademarks, meaning the right to a mark goes to the first party who registers it.
Generally, the process of of applying for a trademark in China can be summarized below:
1. Get a intellectual property agent/attorney to do the filing for you. China laws require foreigners with no permanent address in China to engage a State-approved agent if they want to register a trademark in China Even if you have a permanent address in China, it is advisable to get an agent to do it.
2. Before applying for the registration of a mark, the applicant should conduct a preliminary search at the China Trademark Office to determine if a similar mark is already registered.
3. Complete all the official forms and documents. China Trademark Office only accepts documents submitted in Chinese language.
4. There are altogether 42 classes of trademarks in China. You have to submit your application for at least one of the classes.
5. If you are entitled to claim priority registration, you have to submit your letter of priority, with the proper translation, together with the application. These documents have to be certified by the relevant organizations.
6. Upon submission of all the necessary documents to the China Trademark Office [http://sbj.saic.gov.cn/english/index_e.asp], the Office would review the documents for compliance.
7. After a preliminary examination, if the Trademark Office is satisfied that the mark applied for registration is not similar or identical to existing registered marks, it will grant a preliminary approval and will publish the mark in the preliminary examination gazette.
8. China trademark [http://trademarks.qiliqulu.com/china-trademark-registration.php] law provides that marks published in the preliminary examination gazette are subjected to public opposition for a period of 3 months. If there is any opposition filed, the Trademark Office will inform the applicant.
9. Upon receiving the notice of opposition from the Trademark Office, the applicant has 15 days to respond and to request for an administrative review.
10. If the applicant is not satisfied with the outcome of the review, the applicant can, within 30 days of receiving notice of review decision, file an administrative appeal to the Court.
11. If no party files an opposition to a mark that has received preliminary approval within three months, the Trademark Office will register the trademark and publish notice of the registration in the Trademark Gazette.