If you’re considering entering the Chinese market with your app, it’s crucial to understand the importance of filing for trademark protection on your name and logo. Here’s a comprehensive guide to help you navigate the complexities of China’s trademark registration process:

Your Current Non-Chinese Trademark Registrations Won’t Apply in China

Despite international agreements like the Madrid Protocol, trademarks registered outside China do not automatically protect your brand within its borders. Even if you have a registered trademark in Europe or the USA, it won’t safeguard your rights in China. This also applies to Hong Kong trademarks, which are not valid in Mainland China.

The good news is that foreign companies can secure trademark protection in China, but this requires the expertise of a Chinese trademark agency to handle the registration for you.

For more information on trademark laws in China, you can refer to the Trademark Law of the People’s Republic of China (Revised 2019).

Link: Translating Your App for the Chinese Market

China Is a First-To-File Country

In China, the first entity to file a trademark claim gains exclusive rights to use that mark. This means that even if your company is well-established abroad, another entity can file a trademark claim on your name and logo in China, and if they beat you to it, they’ll have legal control over your brand. This can hinder your ability to distribute or conduct business under your own name and logo in China.

If you discover that your trademark is already registered by someone else, you might encounter “trademark squatters” who may demand money to transfer the mark to you, leaving you with limited options. To avoid such issues, many legal experts advise filing for trademark protection well in advance, even before announcing your intentions to do business in China.

Consider Choosing a Chinese Character Name

To prevent miscommunication and infringement, foreign applicants should register either the Chinese version or a direct translation of their trademark. Opting for a well-thought-out Chinese name for your trademark is wise, as Roman characters alone won’t protect your brand. A well-chosen Chinese name can make it easier for Chinese users to search, read, and speak your brand name. Additionally, consider the impact on SEO, as Chinese app stores heavily weigh the title for keyword searches.

Choose the Appropriate Product and Service Subclasses

In China, trademark classification follows the Nice Classification table from the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). You can choose one class and up to 10 subclasses for your registration.

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How Do I Register My Trademark in China?

The process of registering a trademark in China with the State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC) typically takes 12 to 16 months to complete. Here are the essential steps to get you started:

1. Ensure Your Proposed Trademark Meets the Requirements:

Before initiating the registration process, your proposed trademark must meet the following criteria:

  • The mark must be legal, meaning it can’t be fraudulent, exaggerated in advertising, discriminate against a nationality, or be similar to the name or flag of a state or international organization.

  • The mark must be easily differentiated from other registered trademarks, as China does not accept trademarks that cause confusion or aim to sabotage competitors.

  • The mark cannot be descriptive of the goods or services provided. For example, if your company sells oranges, you can’t trademark the term “orange” or an image of an orange, as these are considered generic terms that anyone is free to use.

  • The mark must be available for registration, meaning it should not already exist in the China Trademark Office’s (CTMO) official database.

  • The mark should have a positive connotation.

2. Initiate the Registration Process:

After ensuring your trademark meets the requirements, you can proceed with the registration process, which generally involves the following steps:

  1. Check if the trademark is already registered.

  2. Submit the application form and supporting documents to SAIC.

  3. SAIC reviews the application and determines whether more information is needed.

  4. SAIC initiates trademark registration processing (usually a year).

  5. SAIC approves and issues the trademark (approximately two more months).

  6. Afterward, you will receive a certificate of approval.

For the uninitiated, CTMO stands for the China Trademark Office, which maintains the official database of registered trademarks in China.

How much does it cost to register a trademark in China?

  • Trademark check fee: ~$120 USD
  • Registration fee: ~$1,000 USD (including legal fees).
  • Government fees: ~$100 USD (typically included in the trademark agency’s fees).

How Can I Renew My Trademark in China?

Trademark registration in China is indefinite but requires renewal every 10 years. Applying for renewal at least six months before expiration allows you to extend the registration for another decade. Failure to use or protect your trademark for a continuous period of three years may result in losing your rights.

21YunBox Can Make This Easy

Navigating the official processes in China can be challenging if you lack Chinese language skills or experience with local government agencies. Fortunately, our international team is here to assist you with trademark registration and other essential aspects of launching your app in China. From distribution to localization to monetization, we simplify the journey to success in the Chinese Android app store market.

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