Because of this blog, our China lawyers get a fairly steady stream of China law questions from readers, mostly via emails but occasionally via blog comments as well. If we were to conduct research on all the questions we get asked and then comprehensively answer them, we would become overwhelmed. So what we usually do is provide a super fast general answer and, when it is easy to do so, a link or two to a blog post that may provide some additional guidance. We figure we might as well post some of these on here as well. On Fridays, like today.
Occasionally a client will be in such a mad rush to file a trademark that they haven’t even formed the company that will own the trademark. Usually, they have a good reason for being in a rush: they’ve antagonized or otherwise alerted a potential trademark squatter, and the longer they wait, the greater the chance that a third party will apply for “their” trademark. They then ask us: if they know what the name of their company will be, can they still file a trademark application in China?
The short answer is no. Without proof of a trademark applicant’s legal existence (e.g., a passport for an individual or a Certificate of Good Standing for a company), you cannot file a national application with the Chinese Trademark Office. This requirement is not actually that onerous; a screenshot from the Secretary of State’s website is generally sufficient evidence of a company’s existence. But it does mean that you can’t file a trademark application in China immediately after forming your company; you need to wait until the relevant website is updated, which usually takes at least a couple days.
Occasionally, during those couple days, the client learns that the supposed name of their company isn’t actually available after all. And then they’re happy that they had to wait. But mostly, they just wish they had formed their company earlier.