Applying for a trademark is a crucial and an important step that’s often ignored or overlooked by exporters.
China is a “first-to-file” country which means that the person who registers a trademark for a product first, will also have all exclusive rights to distribute and sell the product in China market. You won’t, unless you register the trademark first.
Expand your brand market share
With the 20% of total population in the world, China market is extremely important for any company. You have no excuse to lose your product or services in China market. Registering trademark is the first step to allow you export product or services into China. It usually spends you less engergy and money, but will make you good profit in coming days. It is really helpful for the company to creat brand image and grow up business in its own industry. Take famous brands in Europe, United States and Japan for example, you can easily see LV, BMW, Benz, ….. and so on. China consummers spent lots of money to buy these brand products, the number is also raising every year. These foreign companies have earned good business in China, importantly, they all have intellectual property actions upon the first day of expanding their business abroad.
On another hand, if your company just start up business and launch new products with your brand locally, maybe you plan to go to the trade fair for exhibition. Here I need remind you, please register your trademark in the country where you plan to. In China, same situation usually occurs. If you ignore to apply china trade marks for your products, soon you may find from China trademark database that somebody “helped” you register your trademark in China. It is crucial harmful for your products brand, you need handle this issue spending lots of energy and time with the help of professional lawyers.
Brand authorization to your distributor
With your own trademark registered in China, you can give legal authorization to your distributors who can help you do advertising, products selling, service offering and brand influence creating. A good Chinese distributor will insist that you register the trademark first; a less experienced (or shady) distributor might register your trademark “on your behalf” without telling you. More importantly, your distributors can learn from market which products are selling popular, what trends will come in your industry, what local consumers are taking care, all of these factors will give you solution and ideas for next generation product updates. In this way, your company products will in a rolling circle which makes your market share bigger and bigger.
Take down infringing listings on Chinese e-commerce sites
If you only have a trademark registration in the US or EU or some other jurisdiction outside China, you should be able to submit takedown requests to foreign-facing sites like Alibaba, Amazon, JD.com, ebay. But to remove listings from domestic Chinese e-commerce sites like Taobao, JD and 1688.com you almost always need a Chinese trademark registration. Play mags UK is one sample in China. They did not register trademark in China and they lose China market. Many other e-commerce or social networking sites require a Chinese trademark registration and every site will take action more quickly if you have registered trademark. Do you really want to spend your time arguing with taobao’s customer service representatives? Do you really want to take the risk of having someone selling products with your name on them all around the world ? I think you do not.
File a lawsuit for trademark infringement
President Xi Jinping, at the opening ceremony of the 2018 annual meeting of the Boao Forum for Asia said, “Strengthen the protection of intellectual property rights is the most important content to improve the system of property rights protection and the biggest incentive to improve China’s economic competitiveness.”
You can file a lawsuit in China against notorious counterfeiters. This seems obvious but is sometimes overlooked. You do not have any trademark rights in China unless you have registered your trademark in China. If you attempt to file a lawsuit in China for trademark infringement without actually owning the trademark in China that is allegedly being infringed, you will be laughed out of court. You would be surprised (or maybe you wouldn’t) how often our China IP lawyers are asked to sue a Chinese company for trademark infringement, only to discover that the company that engaged us has no China trademark and hence no basis for a claim of infringement.