Just got off the phone with a U.S. company that just learned that the Chinese company (they cannot even remember who it was) it paid to register its trademark in China 3-4 years ago never did so — though it received what it now realizes is a fake China trademark registration certificate. I can’t tell you more about this case because it is so new, but it very much reminds me of the following case study in The Sovereign Group’s 2015 China Market Entry Handbook (which I have in my office because one of our China lawyers wrote the IP section for it) entitled, The Case of the Shanzhai IP Agent:

A North American food company that had become quite successful selling its food product in China learned that a company in Beijing was selling counterfeits of its product. Believing it had registered its trademark in China, the North American company began preparing to sue the Beijing company. In the process of doing so, the North American company learned that while it had retained and paid a purported trademark agent to file a trademark, they had never received a trademark certificate, and the “trademark agent” had in fact taken their money and done nothing.

Without a registered trademark in China, the North American company was powerless to stop the counterfeiter. Its only option was to register its brand name as a trademark, wait more than a year until the trademark proceeded to registration, and then send out a cease and desist letter.

The best way to protect your brand name in China has not changed: register the brand name as a China trademark now, so that when you need to defend it, you already have the registered trademark in hand. And don’t be afraid to ask for references. Reputable service providers will not hesitate to give them.


It was true then and it apparently is true now. Register your trademarks in China, but do so through someone you can trust, or maybe don’t bother at all?

Dan Harris

I am a founder of Harris Bricken, an international law firm with lawyers in Los Angeles, Portland, San Francisco, Seattle, China and Spain.

I mostly represent companies doing business in emerging market countries. It has taken me many years to build my network and it takes constant communication and travel to maintain it. My work has been as varied as securing the release of two improperly held helicopters in Papua New Guinea, setting up a legal framework to move slag from Canada to Poland’s interior, overseeing hundreds of litigation and arbitration matters in Korea, helping someone avoid terrorism charges in Japan, and seizing fish product in China to collect on a debt.

I was named as one of only three Washington State Amazing Lawyers in International Law, I am AV rated by Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory (its highest rating), I am rated 10.0 by (its highest rating), and I am a SuperLawyer.

I am a frequent writer and public speaker on doing business in Asia and I constantly travel between the United States and Asia. I most commonly speak on China law issues and I am the lead writer of the award winning China Law Blog ( Forbes Magazine, Fortune Magazine, the Wall Street Journal, Investors Business Daily, Business Week, The National Law Journal, The Washington Post, The ABA Journal, The Economist, Newsweek, NPR, The New York Times and Inside Counsel have all interviewed me regarding various aspects of my international law practice.

I am licensed in Washington, Illinois, and Alaska.

In tandem with the international law team at my firm, I focus on setting up/registering companies overseas (via WFOEs, Rep Offices or Joint Ventures), drafting international contracts (NDAs, OEM Agreements, licensing, distribution, etc.), protecting IP (trademarks, trade secrets, copyrights and patents), and overseeing M&A transactions.