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 or phone calls 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 quick general answer and, when it is easy to do so, a link or two to a blog post that provides some additional guidance. We figure we might as well post some of these on here as well. On Fridays, like today.
One question we almost always receive from clients who are seeking to protect a logo (or “device,” as it is called in the trademark world), is whether they should register their device in color or in black and white.
According to trademark practice in China, registration of a black and white device in China would protect the logo regardless of the actual color scheme used on the device, and for that reason we typically recommend our clients file an application for the black-and-white version of their trademark.
The exception is if the color scheme for the device is part of the trademark, such as UPS’ brown-and-beige, FedEx’s purple-and-orange, John Deere’s green-and-yellow. In that case you would in fact want to claim the color scheme, because it’s an integral part of the brand identity. But these are the exceptions, not the rule. For most companies, a black and white device is both appropriate and sufficient.