Having you IP fixed is really a key point when going to China, we have multiple (and for some reasons big companies) that have issues with this.
And it can really jeopardize you launch and delay all activities, but most importantly, it can be expensive. As you can’t open on JD, T-Mall, RED or go into major distribution without having this in order.
If you don’t have it in order usually what happens is, the lawyer want more money to fix the issue the created, they fail, you need to pay somebody like us to fix it for them. Lot of money that could have been used on marketing, wasted. So, let’s avoid this, and be smart with out money.
Generally, it seems they are using a single law office to handle all their IP, which is nothing wrong, but you need to ensure you got it correct and in order.
Here are a few tips from our side
1) Make sure you have the trademark registration certificate. (See picture)
This document is essential to prove you own the registered trademark and can use it, pretty much every serious sales channel, online or offline will require you to show this document. This document combined with an authorization document to the party handling your operations is required, if not no store and no market.
2) Make sure you use a single company name to register, especially if you use an oversea entity.
When registering multiple trademarks or extending the number of categories, make sure you are using the same name of your company to handle the registration. This is often that there has been a switch in representatives, and on new registration they use a different name. From the trademark office this seems as a new registration by a new company and will likely be denied as there is already a registration.
This might seem strange, but it’s more common than you think and if you wish to use a different name, you need to ensure you give permission to yourself to register the new name.
3) Know how they are registering the trademark; best is if they have their own China office in China. As most firms will just outsource it to China. (So, you’re just paying an extra fee to speak with a local lawyer)
Some register through international registration offices, this can often make it difficult to get your certificate. Most register through a Chinese partner office or their own local office in China, both could be good options. If they have their own office and staff, it’s generally safer but you should keep on top of it. But if they are going through a partner office, you are basically overpaying to speak to a local representative that market up prices.
Furthermore, although not as common as it once was, it still something we encounter. Days before the application is done, a different company registers the same trademark creating a conflict in the registration. As China generally is “first to apply” this means they technically have the trademark, now you can fight this and might win as it’s a scam clam or you can buy them of. So, more money spent on purchasing you own trademark or invoices from lawyers spending time fighting this. Regardless, you’re paying somebody.
Better is to go with trusted legal help that have a track record or local office in China, then monitoring the process. It will save you a lot of headache and money.
4) Make sure you have the right categories registered, better safe than sorry.
Getting more categories might make the application harder, so don’t go crazy, but make sure you have the once that could be relevant for you.
See classifications at https://www.bugge-group.com/china-trademark-classification/
But also make sure you get class 35, it’s a key category in regard to sales and marketing online. And many flagship stores require it to open. Furthermore, if you don’t have it the risk of somebody else taking it and shutting you down is there.
So, with classification, better safe than sorry.
5) Monitor the registration process independently
Lastly, make sure you check on the progress and process consistently, it’s not just once we have found that people think their trademark have been registered and find months or years later that the Trademark Office is waiting for something. Creating a strange situation when starting a new market.
You can check this at http://wcjs.sbj.cnipa.gov.cn/ – Trademark office of China national intellectual property division, which is the most accurate site.
But if you need English https://chinatrademarkoffice.com/ is also a good option.
So, in conclusion, make sure you have your IP and trademarks in order, as if not you can spend so much money on this. And from our point of view, if you want to succeed in China you need to spend your money smart, so get it right from the start.