A company wants to protect its brand name, logo and short slogan in China. Think “Nike”, Swoosh and “just do it”. A lawyer the company spoke to in the USA said he had a partner in China who could register these for the company. He says individuals are not permitted to register on their own, even if that person is Chinese. The lawyer charges US$10,000 to register each item individually plus any combination of the three. That makes 7 separate filings:
Name / Logo / Slogan / Name+ Logo / Name + Slogan / Logo + Slogan / Name + Logo + Slogan
Is this really the case in China? Here are three questions you may come across when you register your brand, logo and slogan in China!
Can individuals, Chinese or Foreign, register IP in China?
It is my understanding that only authorized registration agents are allowed to file applications in China. However, you need not live in China to hire a registration agent. And you need not be Chinese, or live in China, to be the owner of a Chinese patent and be protected under Chinese law.
Should I register the name/logo/slogan under one application or should I file all seven combinations?
If you ask three lawyers you may get four answers. But here is what my Chinese lawyer told me.
You will have ample protection and save a lot of fees if you register them under a single application consisting of an image that represents the logo, brand name and slogan together. If a competitor uses any part or combination of the part, they will be in violation of the law.
How much is a fair price?
In my experience, US$10,000 sounds excessive. Expect a lot less (a few thousand dollars or less at time of writing) if you engage an English-speaking lawyer in China to register your trademark in English and Chinese. That fee includes the lawyer, plus translations, plus government fees and express mailing of documents. Other IP like utility patents are more complex and the fees reflect that.
For your reference, these are the steps that my Chinese lawyer goes through when registering trademarks:
1. Translates the brand name and slogan per client’s notes
2. Searches the government database to confirm that the trademark in both languages has not been reserved.
3. Choose a suitable font for the Chinese text and send it to the Client for Client to add to the logo and make a single file.
4. Select appropriate product category and up to 10 classifications.
5. Submit the application on Client’s behalf.
6. Follow up the application and update Client on the process.
The total procedure depends on the project scope and national holidays. Depending on how smooth the project goes, it can take from 11 to 24 months from the time the application is submitted to the point where the IP is protected. The average time is around 16 months.
1. A trademark acceptance notice will be issued about two months from the submission of application and a public announcement of the trademark will be made.
2. If no objections are received during a six-month period, an official license will be issued about three months later.
By Mike Bellamy
Mike Bellamy is an Advisory Board Member & Featured Blogger at the not-for-profit China Sourcing Information Center . He is also the author of, “The Essential Reference Guide to ChinaSourcing” and founder of PassageMaker Sourcing Solutions.