Hong Kong, the former British colony returned to China in 1997, is currently a Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China. Being political part of China, however Hong Kong still maintains the privilege of a separate legal and judicial system.
This privilege reflects into the Intellectual Property world: Hong Kong SAR has different IP laws and different IP institutions (trademark and patent offices). Therefore, to be well protected in Hong Kong, companies shall adopt strategies and means to cope with the double system.
When deciding to make business in Hong Kong SAR, such as selling products or open your own company, the protection of the trademark is the fundamental step that shall be seriously taken into consideration.
Indeed, even though the registration is not mandatorily requested to use the trademark in Hong Kong, it is certainly the best way to secure rights to the trademark. Once the trademark has been registered, the owner is granted an exclusive right to use the registered mark on goods or services and can take legal action to stop anyone using a similar sign without consent.
Getting a trademark registered in Hong Kong is an easy process, from both the sides that usually concern the companies: costs and time.
First things first: the trademark filed/registered in China is not effective in Hong Kong. And Hong Kong is not a member of the Madrid Agreement or the Madrid Protocol. This means that there is only one way to cover the territory: a national filing.
This said, when it comes to trademark system, Hong Kong follows the Nice Agreement, which involves more than 150 countries. This makes discussions and cross border comparisons easier, and the process way more efficient. Comparing with the system of China, which applied the “sub-classes” system, this represents an undeniable vantage.
Once the classes and the goods are listed, the application can be filed. In few words, the process consists of: filing the application, examination (within 4 months from the filing), publication (within around 6 months), and finally the official registration, which is – on an average – concluded in 9 to 10 months.
No Power of Attorney or legal documents are required from the Trademark Office. Just the name, address and nationality of the applicant together with the image of the trademark to be filed.
In conclusion, we remind you that the Hong Kong trademark registration system provides legal protection within Hong Kong SAR territory only.
If you want to protect your trademark in the other territories or countries of Asia you need to file the related application(s) and… read our next-week article!
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.