Hong Kong: New Trade Marks Ordinance Takes Effect

Last Updated: 9 April 2003
Article by Cathy Thorsteinson

The new Trade Mark Ordinance and Rules finally went into effect on April 4, 2003. It was gazetted June 16, 2000, but was put off pending promulgation of the Trade Mark Rules and completion of an online search system. The new Ordinance fits into the Intellectual Property Department’s scheme to improve Hong Kong’s investment environment and enhance the protection of IPRs to assist in long-term economic growth. Some of the highlights of the new Ordinance are discussed below.

The Ordinance streamlines the registration process and increases protection for trade marks. Parts A and B have been deleted and there is now a single registration system. Application fees are lower, and there is no longer a separate fee for advertising or registration. Registration for one mark in one class has been reduced to HK$1,300 (US$167). Multi-class applications are now available, and the fee for each additional class is HK$650 (US$83).

The definition of a trade mark is no longer confined to a sign which is "visually perceptible." A trade mark is defined under the new Ordinance as a sign capable of distinguishing the goods or services of one owner from the goods or services of another, and which is capable of being represented graphically. The new Ordinance specifically includes sounds and smells.

There are two grounds for refusal only, absolute and relative. Absolute grounds include marks which are generic, immoral, deceptive, or applications made in bad faith. Bad faith has never been judicially considered in Hong Kong, but in the UK it has been interpreted as referring to the lack of a bona fide intention to trade in all the goods and services in respect of which the mark is applied for. Relative grounds are broadly described as occurring when two marks are identical or similar, for goods identical or similar, where a likelihood of confusion exists among the relevant public. Also, where a mark is identical or similar to an earlier mark for goods which are dissimilar, if the earlier mark is a well-known trade mark under the Paris Convention and the use would take unfair disadvantage of, or be detrimental to, its reputation. A similar standard is used for cases of trade mark infringement. The Registry will not cite a co-pending mark (a mark filed for on the same day) as a relative ground for refusal, since it does not fall within the definition of an "earlier mark" as defined under the Ordinance.

A surprise is how the Registry will be handling disclaimers, which are now voluntary. The rationale for this new policy apparently is pressure from the legal community as well as the trend in countries like the UK. Because there was usually a great deal of time spent arguing over disclaimers, making them voluntary would facilitate faster prosecution of trade mark applications.

For the first time, the new Trade Marks Ordinance includes a provision for famous marks. Trade marks will be considered well-known in Hong Kong if they qualify as well-known trade marks under the Paris Convention. It is not necessary for the owner of a mark to carry on any business in Hong Kong. The factors for determining what is "well-known" may include the degree of recognition of the mark, duration of use, geographic area of use, the record of successful enforcement efforts and the value of the trade mark.

If a mark is entitled to protection under the Paris Convention as a well-known mark, the owner is entitled to an injunction restraining the use in Hong Kong of a trade mark which is identical or similar to his mark in relation to identical or similar goods or services, where such use is likely to cause confusion.

Under the new Ordinance, online searching is available through simple and advanced searching of pending and registered marks. The fields for a simple search and an identical search are identical; however, an advanced search can be made using a wild card symbol. Searchable fields include date of filing, registration, expiry and publication. Both simple and complex Chinese characters can be input.

There are four deficiencies in an application which will result in the loss of the filing date. The four following items must be submitted to the Registry: a request for registration of the trade mark on the specified form; the name and address of the applicant (as in the US, it must be the correct entity); a statement of the goods or services in relation to which registration is sought; and a representation of the trade mark on the appropriate form. The Registry still utilizes a great deal of specialized forms in the prosecution of marks. It is important to note that the description of goods or services must be clear, it is not acceptable to say "All goods in Class 9" or use terms of indeterminate class ("luxury goods"; "prizes"); it is acceptable to use class headings.

Upon payment of the official fee HK$900 (US$115) an application may be converted and examined under the new Ordinance. The filing date will be April 4, 2003, the commencement date of the new Ordinance.

The content of this article does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied on in that way. Specific 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.

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
Related Articles
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
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
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
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.


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.


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