Significant changes in Chinese trademark legislation

On 1 May 2014, a new Chinese trademark legislation enters into force. This will entail a number of substantial changes in regards to protection of trademarks in China, which Danish companies who are active in China, must consider. Most importantly, these companies must focus on protection of their rights by registering their trademarks in China.

During the past years, China has made several progressive changes in terms of IP legislation as the country’s investments in research and development have risen. In terms of trademark legislation, several changes have been made and the new trademark law presents a number of changes, which are worth noting if your company wants to invest in China.

One of the biggest changes, which affects trademark holders, is the introduction of more efficient processes in terms of proving bad faith if a trademark is “hijacked” or registered by someone else than the owner. However, the Chinese system is still a first-to-file system, which means that unless the trademark holder can prove bad faith by the Chinese applicant, the applicant will get the trademark rights. In addition, a rule preventing Chinese trademark specialists from participating in sending in applications in bad faith, has been introduced. However, it is worth mentioning that if the trademark holder appeals a decision from the trademark authorities, the appeal will not act as a stay of execution.

What will these changes mean in practice for Danish companies who are active on the Chinese market? So far, it has not been possible to determine exactly how Danish companies must act in connection to the new legislation. Firstly, we have yet to find out how the Chinese trademark authorities will handle and interpret the regulations and secondly, the outcome of the legislation will probably entail both improvements and diminishments in the legal position in China.

The most important message is that it is vital to apply for trademark protection in China at as early a stage as possible. If your company has an interest in China, perhaps in terms of product production or sales it is thus very important that you apply for protection of the company’s trademarks as soon as possible.

If you want to know more about the new Chinese trademark legislation, feel free to contact our trademark attorneys.