Trademark in China is registered on a “first to file” basis. The logo will be protected for the person who first applies for registration of the trademark. The registration should be considered both by people interested in exporting to China and those planning to import goods from China.
Who should register a trademark in China?
You should register your name and logo when you buy goods in China, on which you place your logo (or if it is on the package). Registrations should also be considered when we decide to sell our goods in China. Thanks to that, we will be sure that only we have the right to use our logo throughout China.
Consequences of not registering a trademark in China
There are many consequences of not registering a trademark in China. Often there are situations when it’s not that easy to get your logo back. Certainly, you will need the help of qualified lawyers. However, lawsuits can be avoided by registering your mark before you start exporting or producing in China.
The right to detain goods in China – confiscation
People who only produce goods in China and sell them abroad (importers) should also reserve their logo. When they do not do it, unpleasant situations may occur, related to the loss of rights to their goods. If the producer does not reserve his logo, someone else will probably do it. The third party can hold unregistered marks of companies producing in China (importers). After taking over the logo, there are often situations where the person to whom the logo is actually registered offers the company to buy their own products.
When a third party takes over a trademark, it has all rights to detain goods at the border. They have the right because they own the logo. It is worth to consider that importer already paid for the product when they stop it at the border (e.g. in the port), which can lead to considerable material damage.
Sales of unregistered goods on e-commerce websites
When the trademark has not been registered, it very often happens that our products appear on Chinese e-commerce platforms. As for a service such as Alibaba, registering a trademark in Europe or the United States should be enough to submit a request to remove the product. However, when these products appear on Taobao or 1688.com portals, the situation looks much worse. Having a trademark registered in China turns out to be necessary in this case. The website’s response will be more efficient and faster.
Not registering a trademark in China may lead to a situation when someone is selling our products worldwide through e-commerce websites.
A conclusion of a contract with a Chinese distributor
It may happen that when we decide to export goods to China, we will encounter a cheating distributor. Before you send your products to China, it’s worth having a registered trademark there. A fair distributor will remind you about it and insist on registration. However, you can also meet a cheating person who will register the trademark in their name or the name of a friend even without telling you.
Not registering your logo leads to the theft of trademarks by cheating distributors.
No possibility of selling goods in China
The Chinese do not recognize the customary right to own a trademark and have little idea about commonly known brands. If you didn’t register the trademark, you can be sure that someone will do it and will take your right to use the logo in China. Most probably later we will be accused of violating “someone’s” trademark and we will lose the opportunity to sell our products in China.
Not registering a trademark may lead to later problems. The Chinese will register your mark if you do not do it yourself and then accuse you.
Problems with winning lawsuits
Until you register your trademark in China, you do not have any rights to it. As a result, accusing a Chinese company of taking a logo is often a lost cause. At the moment when we do not have a registered trademark in China, we have no base for accusations. There are many situations when lawyers specializing in the protection of copyright, discover in court that their clients have not registered trademarks in China. Such cases are really hard to win and usually do not end well.
Not having a registered trademark leads to the loss of copyrights to it. Winning a case in court often turns out to be impossible.
Trade of trademarks
There is a special supermarket on the Internet for trademark sales in China. The platform is associated with the China Technology Exchange and operates with the approval of the State Council. When we skip the registration of a trademark in China, our logo can be found on this page. At the time when no one has bought our logo, the matter is a bit simpler. However, it should be remembered that in the light of the law in China, we do not have rights to this mark. If someone had already bought a logo from this site, the case might be more complicated. We have to obtain evidence that the marks have been taken over for profit so that it can give rise to a dispute.
Not registering your logo may lead to a situation where your trademark will appear on a portal specifically designed for the sale of trademarks. Registration of the mark will save time which we would spend on initiating disputes and looking for the evidence needed to win the case.
Problems with registration
In 2009, a well-known trademark infringement case was held in China. An European company has been sued for about 4,5 million euros. The company used its trademark all over the world and had plans to register the logo in China as well. However, in 2003 it turned out that their logo was already registered by someone else. One of the companies in Shenzhen used the mark and had stores selling similar products. The application for invalidation of the Chinese company’s rights made by the original owners of the logo was rejected. Eventually, the European company decided to change the brand and stopped using the existing trademark.
Will a decision of not registering a trademark save your money? Nothing could be further from the truth!
Many companies, both European and Chinese, assume that the costs of registering trademarks in individual classes are high. They believe that it is better not to register the logo. However, this attitude turns out to be much more expensive than it might seem.
One of the examples is the company from Harbin, which decided not to register the soy sauce brand “Zheng Yang He.” They wanted to save on registration costs of the logo, but eventually, it turned out that the company had to pay 500 000 yuan for buying a trademark from someone who decided to register it earlier.
Do you want to protect your brand and register your trademark in China?