Trade marks in China

An introduction to trade marks in China

Video  \  29 Sep 2017

In this soundbite video our senior associate, Amanda Griffiths, gives a quick intro to trade marks in China.

[youtube url=][/youtube]

So, we all recognise these brands, most of them are international brands but we’ve also got good old New Zealand CookieTime and the one thing that all of these brands have in common is that the owners have lost these trade marks in China.

The reason for that is China is a civil law country and it operates on a first to file system. What that means is that the Chinese trade mark office recognise priority of trade marks based on who has filed a trade mark application first, so it’s essentially first in first served.

It’s a little bit different to New Zealand and most western countries and the reason for that is we also recognise prior use, so you could be operating a shop, running a business for five years in New Zealand but never got around to registering your trade mark. That’s fine because you have rights based on your prior use.

That’s not going to cut the mustard in China. You need to file an application in China. The easiest thing to do and the most obvious answer is to get in and file your trade mark application as soon as possible, before anyone else does, and if it’s the one thing you take home today from my presentation, it would be that, file asap.

What we are saying to clients is pinyin. Look at filing in pinyin which is the Chinese phonetic alphabet. So, for Linden Leaves they chose Li Dan Li, which sounds similar, and the other one is look at filing in Chinese characters. Often this is a combination of a mark that sounds similar to your English version but also has a really desirable meaning. So for Linden Leaves they had a couple of options to choose from and what they chose was this mark here which means ‘beautiful flower’, so a really nice connotation particularly for skin care and body care. You are looking at more costs because for one mark, if you have the budget, you’re filing up to three versions of that mark.