Trademark in China is registered on a “first to file” basis. The logo is assigned to the person who first applies for trademark registration. Whether you export to or import from China, make sure you register your trademark to avoid problems.
Who should register a trademark in China?
You should register your trade name and logo when you buy goods in China. Then, the logo can be affixed to your products or the package.
Registrations should also be considered when you decide to sell goods in China. That way, you can be sure that only you have the right to use the logo throughout China.
What happens if you do not register your trademark in China
There are many consequences of not registering a trademark in China. Often there are situations when getting your logo back is not easy. Certainly, you will need the help of qualified lawyers. However, lawsuits can be avoided if you register your logo/trade name before exporting or importing.
The right to detain goods in China – confiscation
If you manufacture your goods in China, it would be wise to register your trademark/name. Otherwise, unpleasant situations may occur, like losing rights to your goods. If you do not register your logo, someone else can do it. A third party can hold unregistered marks of companies sourcing from China (importers). After trademark infringement, there are often situations where the person to whom the logo is actually registered offers the company to buy their 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 considering that importers already paid for the product when they are at the border (e.g. in the port), which can lead to considerable material damage.
Selling unregistered goods on e-commerce websites
When the trademark has not been registered, the products are often listed 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, the situation is much worse when these products appear on Taobao or 1688.com. Having a trademark registered in China is necessary in this case.
Not registering a trademark in China may lead to a situation when someone sells your products worldwide on e-commerce websites.
Signing a contract with a Chinese distributor
When you decide to export goods to China, you may fall victim to scams. Before you send your products to China, it’s worth having a registered trademark there. A trustworthy distributor will remind you about it and insist on registration. However, you can also have to deal with scammers that register the trademark in their name or a friend’s name even without telling you.
Not registering your logo can lead to trademark theft or trademark squatting.
Losing rights to sell 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 don’t register the trademark, you can be sure that someone will do it and take your right to use the logo in China. Later you can be accused of violating “someone’s” trademark and lose the opportunity to sell our products in China.
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 trademark infringement is often a lost cause. At the moment, when you do not have a registered trademark in China, there is no base for accusations. There are many situations when lawyers specializing in copyright protection find out in court that their clients have not registered trademarks in China. Such cases are tough to win and usually do not end well.
Register your trademark in China to avoid potential lawsuits. Winning a case in court is often impossible.
There is a special online trademark market in China. The platform is associated with the China Technology Exchange and operates with the approval of the State Council. If you neglect to register your trademark in China, it can be found on this page. If no one has bought the logo, the matter is simpler. However, it should be remembered that according to China law, you do not have any rights to this trademark. The case might be more complicated if someone had already bought a logo from this site. You have to obtain evidence that the logo was used unauthorized 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 website specifically designed to sell trademarks. Registration of the logo will save time you 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 took place in China. A 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 someone else already registered their logo. One of the companies in Shenzhen used the mark and had stores selling similar products. The trademark application made by the original owners of the logo was rejected. Eventually, the European company decided to change its brand and stopped using the existing trademark.
Register your trademark and save money
Many companies assume that the costs of registering trademarks in individual classes are high. They believe that it is better not to register the logo. However, it turns out to be much more expensive than it might seem.
One of the examples is the company from Harbin that decided not to register the soy sauce brand “Zheng Yang He.” They wanted to save on the registration costs of the logo, but eventually, it turned out that the company had to pay RMB 500,000 to buy a trademark from someone who decided to register it.