WHEN to Apply for a China Trademark

Our Worldwide IP legal professionals are at all times preaching how overseas corporations should register their logos in China if they’re going to be doing enterprise in or producing product in China (see, for instance, China Logos — Do You Really feel Fortunate? Do You?). And normally, corporations ought to register their logos in China now. Proper now.

China is a primary to file nation. Which means — with few exceptions — whoever information for a selected trademark in a selected class will get it. So if the title of your organization is XYZ and also you make footwear and you’ve got been manufacturing your footwear in China for the final three years and somebody registers the XYZ trademark for footwear, that different firm will get the trademark. After which, armed with the trademark, that different firm has each proper to cease your XYZ footwear from leaving China as a result of your footwear violate that different firm’s trademark.

However saying an organization should register its trademark if it’s going to do enterprise in China does, at the least to a sure extent, beg the query as to when that firm ought to register the trademark. I at all times inform our purchasers and potential purchasers that they need to register their logos straight away. My considering on that is that in the event that they know they should register their model title or emblem as a China trademark, they need to do it straight away in order to ensure no one beats them to it.

However what in case you are a overseas firm considering of introducing your product into China in a few years? What do you do? Nicely in case you are a large firm with some huge cash, you go forward and register your trademark proper now. However in case you are a small firm, spending the cash now might or might not make sense. The place and the way do you draw the road? There is no such thing as a one reply right here; it’s extra a case of understanding it if you see it.

I thought of all this just lately as a result of I acquired a name from a small firm that was referred to me by a China sourcing firm we signify. The China sourcing firm had the foresight to inform this different firm (let’s name it Firm A) that it wanted to register its trademark in China earlier than the sourcing firm began going out and looking for producers for Firm A’s product. However once I spoke with Firm A, it instantly turned clear to me that its funds have been very restricted and that it was not sure if it could be capable of discover a Chinese language producer at a worth that might make sense, and if it did discover that producer, whether or not its product would catch on or not.

Firm A’s not unreasonable plan was to make a restricted amount of its prodcut as a take a look at run after which, if that labored, safe financing to ramp issues up. My dialog with this firm went like this:

Firm A: Is a trademark actually obligatory in China?

Me: It’s obligatory if you wish to you should definitely defend your self from somebody taking your model title from you. How vital is your title to you? If somebody takes it, may you stamp a unique title in your product for the following go spherical?

Firm A: I actually like our title, however I may at all times provide you with a brand new one if that have been to occur. Do you actually assume somebody goes to register our trademark straight away in China?

Me: You simply by no means know. Now we have seen corporations lose their model title earlier than they’ve even chosen a producer and we’ve seen corporations go years with out anybody taking their model title. Rather a lot relies on the business and the model title and your success. If in case you have a scorching product in a scorching business, you might be fairly sure your model title might be taken for those who don’t register it. However since your organization will not be identified and your product is an industrial product not but out out there but, you’ll be able to take into account ready till after you see in case your product could have legs.

Firm A: I would like to do this. Am I taking an enormous danger?

Me: I feel your dangers are fairly low, however they’re undoubtedly increased than zero. Rather a lot relies on whether or not the worst case state of affairs of getting to provide you with a brand new title is horrible for you or not.

You’ll by no means get me to say something apart from how vital it’s to register your trademark in China straight away (as a result of I are not looking for anybody to have the ability to blame me if “their” trademark is registered by another person), however clearly the choice on when to register is usually a bit extra sophisticated than that.