From 1 January 2013, the Chinese Trade Mark Office will allow trade marks to be registered in relation to "retail and wholesale services for pharmaceutical, veterinary and hygienic preparations and goods for pharmaceutical purposes" in class 35, which includes retail or wholesale services provided online or through brick-and-mortar stores. This is a significant change in Office practice, where previously trade mark owners were unable to register their marks in China for "retail services", regardless of the goods being sold. Historically, this made it extremely difficult for owners to obtain trade mark protection for their retail and wholesale services.
China uses a "first to file" trade mark system where the first to apply for a trade mark obtains the registration. From experience, it is also a country where third parties with no apparent interest in a trade mark frequently apply to register other people's marks - often with a view to selling the registration at a later date. For these reasons, we strongly recommend that trade mark owners that are interested in "retail and wholesale services for pharmaceutical, veterinary and hygienic preparations and goods for pharmaceutical purposes" in China takes steps to register their trade marks at the earliest opportunity, so that they have the best chance of being the "first to file".
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