Got a very thoughtful comment the other day, stating the following:
This blog is wonderful and there is a ton of useful information advice here as everyone knows. I don’t even need to say that because it is so obvious. However one thing I don’t understand is why you are constantly preaching to companies to register and to attempt to protect their IP in China without qualifying this advice by saying,…”if you have the means to do so.” The fact is that it is expensive to hire an international law firm such as yours to handle trademark, copyright, patent registrations in China and many small companies just do not have the resources to do this — even if they would like to ( I am talking here about companies that source in China) I know because half the companies I work with are like this. They are very small companies — of ten run out of someone’s home — that can barely afford to get on a plane and go to China to visit a vendor or inspect an order. If one of these people had to choose between inspecting an important order that would put them on the map or registering their IP in a country where even registered IP is vulnerable, what would be the smart thing to do ? I would argue that they need to get on the plane and go inspect their order. If you were to say, well, maybe these people are not ready to do business in China, I would counter that by saying sourcing in China is the only hope these people have to build a business. They have to try, imperfect as it might seem sometimes.
I think registering IP in China is a good idea for companies that can really afford to do so. I do not disagree with your advice here. Unfortunately there are many small companies out there that just cannot afford it and so I think the better advice is always to qualify these statements with “if you can possibly budget it I would strongly advise …” or something along those lines.
Nope. Not gonna happen.
Let me explain.
My job as a lawyer is to tell my clients/potential clients what they need to do to protect themselves in China AND tell them what my law firm will charge them for that protection. I then explain why it is that I think they need to do something and I also explain the risks to them of their not doing what I suggest. Most of the time, this information is more than enough for my clients/potential clients to make their own decisions on how to proceed. Sometimes they will ask my opinion and when I have one, I give it. When it comes to registering a trademark in China, I virtually always tell them to file. I tell them to file because filing is not expensive; it is the extremely rare company that needs to spend even $5,000 to protect all of its trademarks in China. More importantly, however, I tell them to file their trademarks in China because I have dealt with far too many American companies that have had their product seized in China after someone else went off and registered the trademark the American company was using. Once the product is seized, the American company either pays a licensing fee determined by the Chinese trademark squatter or simply relinquishes all of its products. I have also dealt far too often with American companies that have had to engage in a massive re-branding worldwide after someone “took their” trademark in China.
Nope. I ain’t backing down on this one. I know this is going to anger some people, but any company that does not have enough money to protect its key intellectual property assets simply lacks the wherewithal to be doing business in China. Registering your trademark in China is flat out one of the most important things you can do.
So just do it.
For more reasons why I am so adamant on this, please check out the following:
- China: Do Just One Thing. Trademarks.
- WHEN To Register Your China Trademark.
- China Trademarks — Do You Feel Lucky? Do You?
What do you think?