As a result of reshuffling announced during the 2018 National People’s Congress back in March, the Chinese Trademark Office will now become part of the State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO), which had previously only handled patents. SIPO is also taking over responsibility for geographical indications (e.g., Basmati rice, Parmagiano Reggiano cheese, Cognac brandy), but copyrights will remain under the purview of the Copyright Protection Centre of China. Which may seem odd at first – why consolidate IP registrations in one agency but leave out one form of IP? – but that’s how the US does it with the USPTO and the U.S. Copyright Office.
Although early reports are that SIPO is having some growing pains, the integration has progressed enough so that when SIPO released the mid-year statistics on July 10, 2018, it included statistics for patents, trademarks, and geographical indications.
Faithful readers of the blog will remember that we have expressed a combination of incredulity and bemusement at the massive numbers of trademark applications being filed in China over the past few years. See, for instance, Does China Have Too Many Trademarks? and China Still Has Too Many Trademarks. Well, the hits just keep on coming.
During the first six months of 2018, 3,586,000 applications for trademark registration were filed in China. As of June 30, 2018, 31.5 million total trademark applications had been filed, 19.4 million trademarks had been registered, and 16.8 million trademarks remained as valid registrations. To provide some context, slightly more than 5.7 million trademark applications were filed in all of 2017; if the numbers for the second half of 2018 stay at the same level (which seems overly conservative) then the number of applications in 2018 will have increased by nearly 25% from the previous year.
Meanwhile, the CTMO is making a decent showing on its pledge to reduce the time spent examining trademarks. According to its statistics, the average examination time is now about 7 months. I don’t have access to all of the data, but anecdotally that number seems generous (although I will concede that the tempo has picked up). But the quality of the decisions isn’t any better, which raises a bit of a conundrum. If you’re going to get a ridiculous decision, do you want it made quickly or slowly?
One of these days we’ll hit peak trademark – we have to – but we sure aren’t there yet. In the meantime, what with all the trademarks that are being filed in China, it’s more important than ever that you secure the trademarks that matter to you before anyone else does. See China Trademarks: Register Yours BEFORE You Do ANYTHING Else.
In the meantime, stay tuned for updates on China’s trademark statistics.