If you want to protect your brand in China, file a trademark application in China now, before someone else does it for you. If you want to stop counterfeit goods bearing your trademark from leaving China, register your China trademark again with Chinese Customs.
China Customs recently issued a notice stating that they are temporarily suspending registration fees in an effort to alert more companies to their registration service. In other words registering your trademark or other IP with China customs is now free. Nada. Nothing. Zip. Zero.
Registering your trademark with China customs is relatively easy, however, non-Chinese trademark owners must act through a PRC agent. China customs usually requires the following information for customs registration:
- Full name and registered address of the IP owner
- Contact information, including name, department, address, cell phone number, landline number, fax number, and email address.
- A “business license,” proving to China customs that you exist and are a legitimate business. This is usually a Certificate of Incorporation or a Certificate of Good Standing, but it can vary with the country and sometimes even with the state within the United States. When our China lawyers do customs filings, they also provide China customs with Chinese translations of these documents. China Customs sometimes does not accept black and white pdf versions of these documents but usually our explanation of how they are indeed the original version suffices. When that does not work, we secure a certified copy of the document bearing the seal of the state or country. What we choose to provide initially will typically depend on our client’s timing and cost issues.
Our China attorneys also provide China customs with our own identity document, along with gobs of contact information listing our China lawyers as a designated point of contact. We also must provide China customs with a power of attorney signed by the IP owner (Customs requires we use a particular form), authorizing us to handle filings on its behalf. The POA requires the name of the person executing the POA, his/her title, phone number, email address, and the date the POA is executed.
We next submit the relevant IP information, typically consisting of the following:
- The IP owner’s name
- The type of registration (domestic or WIPO). Domestic registrations are generally easier and better. For more on this, check out China Trademarks. Register Them In China Not Madrid.
- The trademark registration number, class, list of goods, and the time period during which the IP registration is effective.
- A certificate of trademark registration and a photo of the client’s mark. For word marks, a typed copy of the words is not sufficient; China customs requires a photograph of the word mark.
- For each trademark, a list of products covered by the trademark and a list of those for which the client would like “heightened protection” from Customs. China customs allows us to provide up to 30 items per trademark.
- For each product, the name of the product, a brief description of the product (in Chinese, of course), and a photo clearly showing the product.
Going forward, we are able to modify product information to correspond to the IP owner’s updated product line.
We also provide a list of the names of any entity authorized to use each of the trademarks other than the actual trademark owner. For each such entity, we provide the name of the entity, the name of the product(s) the entity is authorized to use, the type of entity (e.g., manufacturer, exporter, importer), and a time period (a start date and an end date) for when the entity is authorized to use the trademark.
Once customs approves your registration, it is valid for ten years, but may be renewed for additional ten-year periods. Ten years!
China customs also allows for registering copyrights and patents, and it’s often advisable to do so as part of a comprehensive China IP strategy.
Registering your trademarks and other IP with China customs has always made economic sense, but that is even more so right now!