How to register a China trademark as a foreign company
If you are starting a business in China, it is important to know that China does not recognize unregistered trade mark rights. It is highly recommended that trade marks are registered before starting a business in/with China.
Today we will tell you all about product classification, how to register a trademark in China, what documents you will need, and how long it will take.
The first thing you need to know is that China’s trademark registration employs a “first to file” system, so don’t worry about the length of the process as long as the process has already started. This is true even if you are not conducting any sales in China. This means that anyone in the world who knows your name could register your TM (trademark) before you do! As you can see, it is very important that no-one beats you to it, as it is legal to sell trademark rights, which may lead to blackmail issues.
The trademark is only given for a period of 10 years, with a right of renewal for one more decade
As the official written language in China is Mandarin Chinese, it is highly advisable that you register your brand name in Chinese characters as an addition to your Latin written version.
What can be registered as a Trademark?
You can register many things as a trademark, including words, design, letters of an alphabet, numerals, three-dimensional symbols, and color combinations.
Below is an example of the product classification table breakdown:
All possible products are described and split into 45 Classes
Each Class consists of sub-classes, and these include codes of potential products.
Description of class: Household or kitchen utensils and containers…
- 2101 kitchen cooking utensils and containers
Butter dish 210030
Butter dish cover 210031 etc.
The list goes on.
So, if one day you want to register a TM for butter dishes and butter dish covers, you will be listed as Class 21, Codes: 210030, 210031… and you can go on with as many codes as you want, depending on your business scope. Think carefully, and if tomorrow your brand will be selling cooking pods or microwaves, make sure you register your trademark across those classes as well.
The process could be costly, since it is common to register a maximum of 10 codes per product Class, so the price goes up with the amount of Classes you choose.
How to check if your trademark is available in China?
To check the availability on TM names, you can go to this government website. This site will allow you to read all kinds of relevant information, search for identical or similar TMs, check on your application status, use a generator of possible options, read the TM Gazette etc.
To apply for trademark registration, foreign enterprises need to prepare the following documents:
- Enterprise Licence such as ‘Company Registration Certificate’, ‘Business Registration Certificate’, ‘Business License’ and so on.
- Trademark pattern in clear JPG format. It could be words, images, combination of words and graphics, or other trademark combinations.
- Description the goods or services, which the trademark is applied to.
- Name of entrepreneur, company address, Email address, phone number.
The timeline and overall process of your trademark application will look like the one outlined below:
- It takes about 2 months for you to get the notification of acceptance.
- It takes about 9 months for you to get the result of the trademark examination by the China State Intellectual Property office.
- If the trademark passes the examination of the China Trademark office, it will be published on the website “TM gazette” of China Trademark office for 3 months.
- After the gazette, if no one has opposed the trademark, you will be given the certificate of the trademark within 1 month.
The process is long – 15 months – so be patient, but keep in mind, since the day of your filing no one else can file the same name in your category(-ies), so you have peace of mind on this point.
Full trademark classification list
Here is what the classification of products looks like. Go ahead and check what Class is your product qualifies under. There is no limit to the amount of Classes you can choose to register your trademark.
Chemicals used in industry, science and photography, as well as in agriculture, horticulture and forestry; unprocessed artificial resins, unprocessed plastics; manures; fire extinguishing compositions; tempering and soldering preparations; chemical substances for preserving foodstuffs; tanning substances; adhesives used in industry.
Paints, varnishes, lacquers; preservatives against rust and against deterioration of wood; colorants; mordants; raw natural resins; metals in foil and powder form for use in painting, decorating, printing and art.
Bleaching preparations and other substances for laundry use; cleaning, polishing, scouring and abrasive preparations; soaps; perfumery, essential oils, cosmetics, hair lotions; dentifrices.
Industrial oils and greases; lubricants; dust absorbing, wetting and binding compositions; fuels (including motor spirit) and illuminants; candles and wicks for lighting.
Pharmaceuticals, medical and veterinary preparations; sanitary preparations for medical purposes; dietetic food and substances adapted for medical or veterinary use, food for babies; dietary supplements for humans and animals; plasters, materials for dressings; material for stopping teeth, dental wax; disinfectants; preparations for destroying vermin; fungicides, herbicides
Common metals and their alloys; metal building materials; transportable buildings of metal; materials of metal for railway tracks; non-electric cables and wires of common metal; ironmongery, small items of metal hardware; pipes and tubes of metal; safes; ores.
Machines and machine tools; motors and engines (except for land vehicles); machine coupling and transmission components (except for land vehicles); agricultural implements other than hand-operated; incubators for eggs; automatic vending machines.
Hand tools and implements (hand-operated); cutlery; side arms; razors.
Scientific, nautical, surveying, photographic, cinematographic, optical, weighing, measuring, signalling, checking (supervision), life-saving and teaching apparatus and instruments; apparatus and instruments for conducting, switching, transforming, accumulating, regulating or controlling electricity; apparatus for recording, transmission or reproduction of sound or images; magnetic data carriers, recording discs; compact discs, DVDs and other digital recording media; mechanisms for coin-operated apparatus; cash registers, calculating machines, data processing equipment, computers; computer software; fire-extinguishing apparatus
Surgical, medical, dental and veterinary apparatus and instruments; artificial limbs, eyes and teeth; orthopedic articles; suture materials.
Apparatus for lighting, heating, steam generating, cooking, refrigerating, drying, ventilating, water supply and sanitary purposes.
Vehicles; apparatus for locomotion by land, air or water.
Firearms; ammunition and projectiles; explosives; fireworks.
Precious metals and their alloys; jewellery, precious stones; horological and chronometric instruments.
Paper and cardboard; printed matter; bookbinding material; photographs; stationery; adhesives for stationery or household purposes; artists’ materials; paintbrushes; typewriters and office requisites (except furniture); instructional and teaching material (except apparatus); plastic materials for packaging; printers’ type; printing blocks.
Unprocessed and semi-processed rubber, gutta-percha, gum, asbestos, mica and substitutes for all these materials; plastics in extruded form for use in manufacture; packing, stopping and insulating materials; flexible pipes, not of metal.
Leather and imitations of leather; animal skins, hides; trunks and travelling bags; umbrellas and parasols; walking sticks; whips, harness and saddlery.
Building materials (non-metallic); non-metallic rigid pipes for building; asphalt, pitch and bitumen; non-metallic transportable buildings; monuments, not of metal.
Furniture, mirrors, picture frames; unworked or semi-worked bone, horn, ivory, whalebone or mother-of-pearl; shells; meerschaum; yellow amber.
Household or kitchen utensils and containers; combs and sponges; brushes (except paintbrushes); brush-making materials; articles for cleaning purposes; steelwool; unworked or semi-worked glass (except glass used in building); glassware, porcelain and earthenware.
Ropes and string; nets; tents, awnings and tarpaulins; sails; sacks; padding and stuffing materials (except of paper, cardboard, rubber or plastics); raw fibrous textile materials.
Yarns and threads, for textile use.
Textiles and substitutes for textiles; bed covers; table covers.
Clothing, footwear, headgear.
Lace and embroidery, ribbons and braid; buttons, hooks and eyes, pins and needles; artificial flowers.
Carpets, rugs, mats and matting, linoleum and other materials for covering existing floors; wall hangings (non-textile).
Games and playthings; gymnastic and sporting articles; decorations for Christmas trees.
Meat, fish, poultry and game; meat extracts; preserved, frozen, dried and cooked fruits and vegetables; jellies, jams, compotes; eggs; milk and milk products; edible oils and fats.
Coffee, tea, cocoa and artificial coffee; rice; tapioca and sago; flour and preparations made from cereals; bread, pastries and confectionery; edible ices; sugar, honey, treacle; yeast, baking-powder; salt; mustard; vinegar, sauces (condiments); spices; ice.
Agricultural, horticultural and forestry products; raw and unprocessed grains and seeds; fresh fruits and vegetables; natural plants and flowers; live animals; foodstuffs for animals; malt.
Beers; mineral and aerated waters and other non-alcoholic beverages; fruit beverages and fruit juices; syrups and other preparations for making beverages.
Alcoholic beverages (except beers).
Tobacco; smokers’ articles; matches.
Advertising; business management; business administration; office functions.
Insurance; financial affairs; monetary affairs; real estate affairs.
Building construction; repair; installation services.
Transport; packaging and storage of goods; travel arrangement.
Treatment of materials.
Education; providing of training; entertainment; sporting and cultural activities.
Scientific and technological services and research and design relating thereto; industrial analysis and research services; design and development of computer hardware and software.
Services for providing food and drink; temporary accommodation.
Medical services; veterinary services; hygienic and beauty care for human beings or animals; agriculture, horticulture and forestry services.
Legal services; security services for the protection of property and individuals; personal and social services rendered by others to meet the needs of individuals.