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Did you know that China’s annual consumption of ice cream would fill 2,344 Olympic-sized swimming pools? Or that China’s annual instant noodle consumption could feed the entire European continent dinner for 52 days? In recent years, China has produced rapid technological advances and has re-established itself as a significant contributor to developments in the fields of science and technology, amongst others. With a population of over 1.3 billion people, one of the fastest growing economies in the world and, of course, it’s flourishing counterfeit goods market, China is often a key territory for International businesses to secure trade mark protection.
In this series of articles, we look at some of the quirks of obtaining trade mark protection in China, starting with some interesting facts about China and an introduction to trade marks in China.
Population: over 1.35 billion
Largest City: Shanghai
Official Language: Mandarin, but China has 297 living languages
Time Zone: China Standard Time (UTC + 8)
Annual Instant Noodle consumption: 42.5 billion packs in 2011
Demand for chopsticks: 80 billion pairs of disposable chopsticks a year
Consumer spending: Chinese consumer spending is projected to rise from $2.03 trillion in 2010 to $6.18 trillion annually in 2020. China is expected to be the top global luxury market at $245 billion
Trade Mark Overview
Trade Marks filed annually: has grown from 766,319 in 2006 to 2,876,048 in 2015.
First to file jurisdiction: rights are acquired by registration. Only minimal rights are acquired through use.
Types of registrable mark: words, names, logos, some 3D shapes, colours, slogans, sounds, trade dress/get-up
Member of the International trade mark system?: Yes
Priority claims possible?: Yes
Classification: Nice classification and local sub-classification system
Multi-class applications allowed: Yes, but this was only introduced recently and our experience is that there is resistance from Chinese Trade Mark Attorneys.
Relative grounds refusal? Yes – an application can be refused by the office on the ground of earlier registrations
Opposition period: three months
Use requirements: Use is not required in order to obtain a registration. There are provisions for cancellation of a registration if the mark is not used for a consecutive period of three years.
Term of registration: Ten years, renewable by further periods of ten years.
Further articles in this series will look at some of the more unusual considerations to take into account when filing applications in China.