Except the well-being trademarks, PRC Trademark Law only protects the registered trademarks. The holder of a registered trademark enjoys the monopoly rights in China. Foreign trademarks cannot be automatically protected in China. Foreigners have to apply to register their trademarks in China. The Trademark Office of NIPA is in charge of the administration of trademarks.
What can be registered as a trademark in China?
Any visual sign, or combination of visual signs that distinguish your goods or services from others can be registered as a trademark. The visual sign include words, figures, letters, numerals, three-dimensional signs, sounds, or any combination of the above.
What cannot be registered as a trademark in China?
In China, not all signs or marks can be registered as trademark. The following signs cannot be registered:
- Marks that only bear the generic names, devices, or model numbers of the goods;
- Marks that simply indicate the quality, main raw materials, function, use, weight, quantity or other features of the goods;
- Marks that lack distinctive characteristics.
The trademark application must be filed with the Trademark Office of NIPA. Any foreigner shall entrust a trademark agency legally set up in China to apply to register a trademark on its behalf.
Does a foreign trademark enjoy priority when the holder applies to register it in China?
Yes. If the same applicant registers the same trademark for the same goods in China, and the foreign country has concluded an agreement or an international treaty with China, the applicant may enjoy a right of priority. The priority period is 6 months. The priority period starts from the date on which the applicant first applies to register the mark in the foreign country.
What is the term of protection for trademarks?
The term of trademark protection is 10 years starting from the date on which the registration certificate is issued. The term can be renewed for additional 10 years.
If a trademark is not used for a continuous 3-year period, the trademark can be subject to cancellation due to non-use.
How to assign and license a trademark?
A registered trademark can be assigned to another. The assignment shall be approved by the Trademark Office. The assignment of registered trademark shall be publicized after it is approved.
A registered trademark can be licensed to another. The licensor shall file the license of the trademark with the Trademark Office for record.
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