The Chinese trade mark office (CTMO) has announced that as of
January 1, 2015 it will now accept trade mark applications which
seek to cover the services "providing
online market for the buyer and seller of goods or
services" in subclass 3503 of class 35 although the
terms "retail and wholesale services" will still
remain unacceptable in class 35.
Up until now, the CTMO has not recognized the protection of any
types of retail services in class 35. However, this important
change means the CTMO has, in effect, opened its door for
"online retail and wholesale services" in class 35 and
will be of great significance to online retailers and shopping
websites such as eBay and Amazon.
In light of these changes, we would recommend that clients with
an interest in online retail and wholesale services in China
contact their usual trade mark attorney to discuss the potential
filing of additional applications to cover these services.
Reminder regarding Chinese translations of
Whilst discussing China, we would also remind clients who have
an active interest in China, or who are considering entering the
market in China, to carefully consider how their trade mark will be
translated by the receiving Chinese public. In China, many
consumers cannot readily comprehend words written in Roman letters.
Chinese consumers will therefore generally refer to foreign brands
by reference to Chinese versions. Consequently adopting a Chinese
equivalent trade mark removes language barriers, improves
recognition of a trade mark and enables your products to reach a
If no official Chinese version is provided and promoted by you,
the local Chinese market will create its own. The risk in allowing
the local Chinese market to create its own Chinese version of your
trade mark is that you may not like it; things can get lost in
translation and the Chinese version may not necessarily have the
desired connotations or image.
Chinese trade marks therefore need to be carefully developed
with the help and guidance of trade mark, marketing and public
relation experts as well as native speakers and translators. Once
the Chinese version has been created and searches undertaken to
check the availability of the mark in China, you should take steps
to register your mark. If the Chinese version is not registered,
there is a risk that a third party may register it. It can be very
difficult to successfully challenge such registrations due to the
difficulty in proving that the Roman letter and Chinese character
marks are recognized by consumers as equivalents.
Another useful point to bear in mind is that registration of a
foreign language mark in Roman letters is unlikely to be infringed
by use of a Chinese character equivalent and vice versa as the
marks will look and sound different or convey different ideas.
Therefore both versions should be protected.
China operates a "first to file" trade mark protection
system. Therefore, if China is a key territory of importance for
your business or is likely to be so in the near future, then we
would strongly recommend taking steps to register your trade mark
now so as to ensure that your rights are safely protected and to
prevent other unscrupulous third parties from doing so instead.
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.
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