Australia: Make your mark in China

Last Updated: 23 June 2017
Article by Eric Ziehlke and Esther Khoo

PROTECTING YOUR TRADE MARK IN CHINA

Australian businesses are increasingly recognising the growing importance of China both as a market for their goods and services and as a source of manufactured products. The protection of trade marks in China should be of critical importance for such businesses. Recent public discussion highlights how well-known companies such as Penfolds and Weet-Bix and high-profile individuals like Michael Jordan were caught up in legal battles over trade marks in China due to failure to register their trade marks at the outset.

Although there are similarities between the Australian and Chinese trade marks systems, there are some fundamental differences. Here are our top five tips for businesses thinking about moving into China.

(1) "FIRST TO FILE" v "FIRST TO USE"

The key distinction between the Australian and Chinese trade marks system is that China adopts a "first to file" registration system rather than the Australian "first to use" system. In Australia, you may still have some legal claim over a trade mark if you can demonstrate that your business has used the mark in the past. In China, prior usage is not considered. The first person to file for a particular trade mark generally owns the trade mark. This can lead to many problems for Australian businesses intending to operate in China. Businesses who plan on opening in China, but do not register their trade marks pre-emptively may find themselves in a protracted legal disputes over the ownership of the marks. These disputes generally arise with other companies who have registered similar marks. Remedies can include the filing of an application to cancel a mark or negotiations to buy the mark. Neither option is particularly palatable.

(2) BRANDING IN CHINA

One important commercial consideration to keep in mind lies in determining the Chinese branding of your product or business. It is important to register your trade mark both in Chinese and transliterated form (pinyin), which is the English form of the Chinese name. As most Chinese customers prefer to use a Chinese name for your brand, it is important for you to select a Chinese brand name. If you do not do so, another party may start using a Chinese version of your brand name to refer to a similar product or service. This name could then be registered by that party, thus obstructing your marketing activities in China.

(3) MANUFACTURING IN CHINA

If you manufacture your goods in China, you are at risk of breaching the rights associated with a registered trade mark. This could apply even if you do not sell your goods in China. The act of placing your brand on manufactured goods means that you are effectively using your trade mark in China. It is therefore important to register your trade mark for any product you intend to manufacture.

A particularly important aspect to consider in setting up a manufacturing business in China is that you maintain ownership of the intellectual property in the technology and associated commercial reputation in that product. It is therefore important to both enter into binding agreements as to the use and licensing of your intellectual property.

(4) FILING A TRADE MARK APPLICATION IN CHINA

There are two main methods of filing a trade mark in China. The simplest method is to file an international trade mark application from Australia which designates the jurisdiction of China. An international application must be based on your previously filed Australian trade mark. Alternatively, a trade mark application may be filed directly in China through Chinese lawyers based in China. Although such an application may be more expensive than an international application, a China-based trade mark specialist has more experience in determining the precise wording of the specification of the mark in order that it complies with Chinese practice.

Trade mark registrations in China are valid for 10 years. The trade mark may be renewed every 10 years but can be removed from the register for non-use. A standard trade mark registration takes 12 to 15 months to be approved from date of application.

(5) LIAISING WITH GOVERNMENT

Australia has sent its first IP Australia Counsellor to China, David Bennett, who is working out of the Australian Embassy in Beijing as of early 2017. Mr Bennett's role involves supporting Australian business to navigate the Chinese IP system, which includes providing guidance on IP registration, enforcement and court procedures and liaising with the Australian business community in China. This is a welcome step as the United States, Britain and Japan have all had China IP counsellors for some years.

The relationship between IP Australia and the State Intellectual Property Office of China was further strengthened with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the two organisations during the visit of the Chinese Premier to Australia in March 2017.

IF YOU REMEMBER ONE THING

Be proactive about protecting your IP in China. Trade mark applications are not particularly expensive and failure to seek registration could destroy the reputation you are seeking to create in China and severely restrict your opportunity to break into what is becoming the world's largest market.

Swaab Attorneys has significant experience in drafting and prosecuting trade mark applications in Australia and overseas. As a member of Meritas, a global network of 177 law firms servicing 226 key markets, we are well placed to deliver a comprehensive IP strategy for your business looking to expand internationally.

For further information please contact:

Eric Ziehlke, Partner
Phone: + 61 2 9233 5544
Email: ejz@swaab.com.au

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Authors
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Pointon Partners
Barraket Stanton
Thynne & Macartney
 
Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Related Topics
 
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Pointon Partners
Barraket Stanton
Thynne & Macartney
Related Articles
 
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
Mondaq on Twitter
 
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
 
Email Address
Company Name
Password
Confirm Password
Position
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Accounting
 Anti-trust
 Commercial
 Compliance
 Consumer
 Criminal
 Employment
 Energy
 Environment
 Family
 Finance
 Government
 Healthcare
 Immigration
 Insolvency
 Insurance
 International
 IP
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Litigation
 Media & IT
 Privacy
 Real Estate
 Strategy
 Tax
 Technology
 Transport
 Wealth Mgt
Regions
Africa
Asia
Asia Pacific
Australasia
Canada
Caribbean
Europe
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
U.K.
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.

Disclaimer

The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.

General

Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions