Registering a trademark in China is not as expensive as in other Countries, however that is only true if the registration goes smoothly from filing to granting stage. In case your trademark is already taken by identical or highly similar marks, it is indeed possible that the process won’t be smooth.

So, if you want to register a trademark in China, it’s highly recommended to do a search before to find out if there are identical or similar marks already registered.

You might ask though what happens if your mark is taken: What are the chances of success in registering in China a trademark which, after the search, turns out to be already taken?

Well, let’s start saying that not every battle worth to be fought. I don’t mean that we shall immediately give up without even trying but there are few evaluations that shall be carefully considered.

There were around 10 million new applications for trademark registration filed in 2022. These applications, together with the already registered trademarks which is something like 30 million trademarks, constitute an obstacle to the registration of a new identical or similar trademark for same of similar goods/services.

Let say, for instance, that around 4 months after our application for trademark registration, we receive a notification from the Chinese Trademark Office (CNIPA) which states that the application did not pass the substantive examination because prior similar marks have been detected and, due to the similarity, they block our application.

In this scenario, we would still have few options:

1. Filing a rejection appeal before the CNIPA (formerly Trademark Review and Adjudication Board “TRAB”)

2. Filing a lawsuit before the Beijing IP against TRAB rejection;

3. Filing opposition against the application blocking our application (if we are in the right timeframe which allows us to pursue this action);

4. Filing invalidation against the registered trademark blocking our application (if we are within 5 years from its registration date);

5. Filing non-use cancellation against the trademark blocking our application) if this trademark has been registered for more than three years).

6. Purchase the trademark or give up.

As a general rule, we would suggest registering your trademark as soon as possible in order to avoid copycats and, at the same time, be original but simple in choosing your mark (indeed complicate logos are more easily subject to refusal).

As you may see from the quick summary above it’s all about options (and time).

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.