Guide to Apply for a trademark in China


1. General Information

The Chinese Trademark Office accepts trademark applications for registration of trademarks for goods, service trademarks, certification trademarks and collective trademarks. Any visual sign including words, devices, letters, numerals, three-dimensional symbols, combinations of colors, or any combination of the above elements may be applied for the registration of a trademark.

The application can be filed online or offline, and the applicants favor the online application due to the high efficiency and risk-free of the acceptance of the goods/services items. The offline application allows the applicant drafting the goods/services items by themselves to have more proper protection for their products but always has a high risk of receiving an office action to amend it.

In addition, the tight deadline for filing an appeal of a trademark refusal is always a headache for the foreign associates and applicants. Still, it seems the CNIPA doesn’t intend to amend the law. Hence, it is advised to file the primary appeal for trademark review of refusal to catch the deadline and get three months more to make the final decision.

The duration of the validity of a registered trademark is ten years, counted from the date of approval of the registration and could be renewed every ten years. The window for renewal would be opened one year ahead of the expiration date and closed in the sixth month after the expiration date.

2. How to search the trademark in CNIPA?

The Chinese trademark office adopts its own Classification table which derived from the Nice classification table but with some special goods/services items with C in the item numbers. Each class is divided into several sub-classes, and it is the basis to judge the similarity. That’s why the trademark applied on different items but be judged as similar trademarks in China, although it is approved in some other countries.

The CNIPA offers an online trademark search for the public to search the application/registration records.

The examination for a combined trademark including Chinese element, English element and graphic is separate, so the trademark would be regarded as similar if one of said element is similar to an existed trademark even if the whole trademark looks different.

3. How to file the trademark application in China?

The foreign applicant is compulsory to file the application through a Chinese agency. The requirement for filing the application online or offline are similar excepting the request form for an offline application, including

a. Trademark sample;
b. Applicant’s name and address;
c. Identification documents for the applicant, i.e. passport or ID card for the natural person as well as Certificate of incorporation or business certificate for a legal entity;
d. Goods/services items, it is highly recommended to use the Chinese classification table rather than use the items of your local application;
e. Certified priority document if you claim for priority, it can be submitted after filing the application.

4. Important notice after filing the application

For a national trademark application, once the refusal issued, you only have 15 days to file a primary appeal for trademark review, but in fact, you don’t have 15 days to think about it and make a decision, file exchange and filing works will take at least two days away.

Hence, checking the status of trademark application with your agency termly is recommended, don’t just wait for a report. Of course, a reliable agency with stable operation history is also important, the CNIPA only contacts with the recorded agency rather than the owner for any of the matters regarding your trademark.

The advice is also applicable for your trademark after grant, if anyone filed a cancellation based on non-use, CNIPA will issue an office action to the recorded agency and ask to submit evidence within 2 months. The deadline is non-extendable, and the trademark will be canceled if you missed responding the office action within the time period.

At last, keeping on use your trademark in China in each consecutive three years or reregister it in every three years to maintain your rights.