Copyright protection in China

Article  \  15 Jun 2018

Copyright provides the exclusive right to use and distribute an original work. As the name suggests, it prevents against copying, it cannot be used against someone that independently creates the same work.

Copyright protects the tangible expression of an idea but not the idea itself.  In New Zealand, copyright arises automatically upon creation of an original work and there is no requirement for registration.  This also applies in China but China provides registration of copyright, similar to the US.  While copyright registration is not compulsory and it may seem an unnecessary burden to register, it makes enforcement much easier, making it a useful addition to your armoury in more high risk areas.  It can also be useful in establishing rights in a trade mark over squatters, particularly stylized trademarks.

Have I got what I need to register copyright in China?

To register copyright in China, businesses must show that they are the creator of the copyright work or have legally acquired ownership. See the checklist below for the information required to register copyright.  While some of these questions may seem unnecessary or potentially complex, it is worth bearing in mind that much of this information will be required if it is ever necessary to enforce your copyright against infringers, and not just in China.  Consequently, regardless of whether you wish to register copyright in China, it is good process to have this or a similar checklist that you run through for each of your creations. Completing this process at the time of creation is much easier than some years after the event when you wish to sell or enforce your copyright.



   Name given to the work (this needs to be in Chinese & English)
   The date that the work was completed (or at least in which month)
   The name of the city and country where the artwork was completed and first published 
   Date of First Publication (at least which month)
   Type of work – was the work created by an individual, a collaboration   of creators, corporate author, or  commissioned?
   What is the author’s name (can be individuals, entities or   design agencies)
   What is the copyright owner’s name and address
   What was the intention behind the creation (for what purpose the artwork was created)
   The process of creation (especially where the inspiration came from) needs to be detailed
   Identify the features of the artwork (aspects of colour, shape and structure, etc.,and what the artwork represents)
   Provide a copy of copyright owner’s certificate of incorporation (most recent version)
   If the creation of the artwork involves an individual, then a copy of  the author’s passport or other form of identity needs to be supplied
   Proof that you own the copyright (for example, original draft design of the works, any contract relating to the ownership of  the works)
   Provide a clear sample of the work

For more information on how to protect your business in China, download a copy of our free ‘Protecting your IP in China’ ebook