- The best idea for your first mark is a wordmark, this means a simple word without any design, like ""Apple"", ""BMW"". It gives the broadest scope of protection. Additionally, wordmarks are rarely changed, unlike logos. Usually a wordmark is a foundation of your Intellectual Property, most businesses start from it.
- A logo as the first mark is rarely recommended as it has limited uses. You can't use it when speaking and it can be only seen when displayed or printed. This is an important limitation of its use.
- A combined mark is a solid choice in many countries (not in China). But it is recommended as the first mark only when the wording can't be registered as a wordmark by itself as it is unregistrable for some reason. A wordmark is still preferred as it remains the best value for money and the most versatile. In China we do not recommend getting a combined mark for the reasons set in 1.2 Registrable and unregistrable marks.
🇨🇳 Detailed Trademark Fees in China
|Trademark service in China|
|Service type||Price, USD|
|Filing, extra class||309 (Gov. fee included)|
|Responses to non-substantial objections||200-400|
|Responses to substantial objections||820|
|Filing an opposition||1400|
|Filing a notice of invalidation (cancellation)||900|
|Change of Address||150|
|Change of Representative||70|
|Design Patent registration||549|
|Design Patent registration (additional design)||189|
1. What can be registered in China?
1.1 Trademark Classification in China
Multiple-class applications are possible but single-class applications are recommended as filing a multi-class application is not more cost-effective compared to single-class applications. An objection against a multi-class application will stop the process in all the classes. We file only single-class applications in China.
A mark must be associated with products and/or services. These products/services are divided into 45 classes. The names of the products and services are determined either by the Trademark Office of China (China National Intellectual Property Administration or CNIPA) or by the WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization).
In China, only the Nice Classification is acceptable, no custom items are allowed.
If you want to choose the best items to cover all your products and services you can have us help you. Choosing the right services is crucial as if the list is too short, your mark will have no room to develop, if it is too vague it might be objected by the Trademark Office. An ideal list includes around 10 items.
The listed fee for filing a trademark application in China includes only up to 10 goods/services in one class, and each additional item will cost 17 USD.
1.2 Registrable and unregistrable marks
Did you know that there are marks that can NEVER be registered? Those are generic or descriptive marks, for example, you can't register CAR for cars, FAST CAR for cars. The same applies to misleading marks or marks that are offensive. Also, a country might have its own rules, for example, in the UK you can't register images of crowns similar to the Royal Crown and in China disparaging marks are not allowed. If any word has even a very slight offensive meaning, most likely it will be refused in China.
We do not recommend filing logos in China as the examination process is very subjective and logos receive objections more often than wordmarks.
1.3 Weak and Strong Trademarks
There are strong marks and weak marks. A weak mark in the course of an extensive use might become strong, think of "Booking.com" as an example. But strong marks are easier to defend and register. Marks that are descriptive to some degree are considered weak, while strong marks have no meaning, for instance, Google.
Some marks are weaker than others, even if such marks can be registered. There are suggestive marks like Microsoft, dictionary words with no direct association with the products or services such as Apple and made-up words or fanciful marks, i.e. Xerox.
The strongest marks are fanciful or made-up words, but from the marketing point of view, a suggestive mark might be preferable. A suggestive mark is a mark that SUGGEST a quality of the product. Microsoft is a suggestive mark, you understand that it has something to do with software and this makes it easier for a regular customer to remember the mark.
1.4 Similarity in China
Confusingly similar marks in China can potentially block your mark and prevent it from getting registered. Confusingly similar marks can sound similar, mean similar things or look similar. The general conception of similarity is that the new mark might mislead consumers into believing that the products with the "old" mark and the "new" mark are manufactured by the same business.
There is no 100% algorithm to determine similar marks, each case is different and we rely on the experience of our attorneys, we recommend ordering our Study before applying for a mark.
1.5 Trademark Study in PRC
A study is a very detailed trademark search, when we check all the valid trademarks to find out if your mark can be registered. You get a report with the list of all similar marks and our recommendations if you should file your trademark as is or if you should change something about your mark, for example, if you should add a word to the mark.
When our attorney completes a Trademark Study or an Extensive Study, you will get a list of similar marks with a similarity score. We will provide you with our comments if it is recommended to proceed with the trademark and how you can increase the probability or registration.
Getting a study makes a process more predictable. It's like getting a map before going into a forest. You know what to expect and you can get prepared to what lies ahead.
2. Free Trademark Search in China
We offer an online free trademark search in China, you can request it on this page. It's free and we'll check the register within a day. Our search is carried out by professional trademark consultants and as any manual searches this will increase its value.
We may spot that your mark is descriptive or generic and inform you beforehand. Some marks can't be registered in China and we will notify you if this is the case.
We send search results within a day and we might contact you even earlier to ask about your business niche and your products. You will get a list of identical marks and can request additional details. That's free as well.
3. Trademark Registration in China
3.1 Your Registration Plan
Step 1. Start with a Free TM Search. We will check if there are any obvious conflicts. You will know if it's worth moving forward with the mark.
Step 2. Learning more about your brand. To file a trademark, we will need to know the owner address and name, the trademark and if it has a logo and what services/products it covers.
Optional Step 3. Attorney's opinion (a.k.a. Study) In some cases we may recommend asking our attorney to review the case and prepare a detailed registration report. That's an optional non-obligatory service.
Step 4. Request registration and submit your payment. The process is completely online and we'll request your mark within 3-5 days and you will get a filing confirmation.
3.2 Recommendations for applicants in China
File your trademark in China. Even if you do not plan yet to extend your business in China. It is especially important to file your trademark in China if you plan to place an order to some manufacturer. Trademark squatting is very common in China, therefore, the country must be on your list of the most important countries.
Our prices include everything for a straightforward process of registration, from the initial trademark search to the effective registration.The prices do not include any legal defenses in case of oppositions or objections.
3.3 Brand Registration Process in China
- Applying for your mark (we pay all the government fees and submit the application) - > 5 days
- Formal examination (if the list of goods/services is correct, if other details are correct) -> 4 months
- Substantial examination (if the mark is unique and registrable) -> 7 months
- Publication (allowing the public and other business to object against the mark registration) - > 3 months
- Registration -> 2 months
Registration Process explained in 2 minutes (video):
3.3.1 Opposition period in China
Before registration, the trademark application is published in the weekly “Official Gazette” for the purposes of opposition for 90 days. If no opposition is filed against the trademark during the publication period the Trademark Office will issue the registration certificate within 2 months and will publish the mark in the Official Gazette, informing that the mark is registered.
4. China Trademark Registration: Required documents
4.1 Documents required for filing a mark
- Copy of Certificate of Incorporation for companies or a copy of passport for individuals. Please note that in 2022 ID cards are no longer accepted.
- Power of Attorney (simply signed or stamped), only a scan is required.
4.2 Priority documents
- A trademark in China can be filed with claiming priority of a prior foreign trademark application within 6 months from the filing date of the prior foreign application.
- Requirements: a certified copy of the prior trademark application documents with a certified translation into English.
5. Other process details
5.1 China first to use or first to file?
This is a first to file country, which means that whoever filed a trademark first will own it, even if someone else used it before. If someone registered your mark first, you will have to show that your mark was famous in China and the threshold for being famous is rather high.
A registered trademark in China is valid for 10 years from the date of registration. If a mark is not used for 3 years continuously, it may be cancelled. The trademark owner must use the trademark in the same form as that in its certificate.
5.2 How long does the process take in China?
The entire process in China takes 15 months provided that there are no problems during the examination and publication stages. That's the average time required to register your mark.
6. What are the benefits of owning a trademark?
6.1 What means to own a mark
You have an ownership confirmation and the mark becomes a point of value collection, meaning that whatever you invest into your brand or into its reputation will not disappear, but will "stick" to your trademark. Getting a registration will seal your ownership over this value.
That's similar to buying a land lot to build a house. Would you like to build a house on a land lot that's not even yours? Of course not. Ownership matters.
6.2 What can you do with a registered mark?
When you register your trademark in China, you’ll be able to:
1. Take legal action against anyone who uses your brand without your permission, including counterfeiters
2. Put the ® symbol next to your brand - to show that it’s yours and warn others against using it
3. Sell and license your brand
4. Enrol in the Amazon Brand Registry
7. Why Bonamark?
Bonamark takes care of more parts of the process than any other company out there. We are not here to just file anything without thinking.
We are here to check everything, prepare the documents required in a way to avoid the most common objections, enhance your product list for the optimal scope of protection and make sure that you don't have to pay extra and spend more time than you have to.
In China we filed thousands of marks since 2016 and work with the most experienced attorneys in this country. We take full responsibility for your success and make sure that everything is done according to your instructions.
Bonamark is one of the most valued trademark registration companies with 4.9/5 rating.
8. After TM registration
8.1 Trademark Certificate
A trademark is registered for 10 years and a digital certificate is issued. An example is attached below
8.2 Use of ® and TM, SM
If your mark is registered, use the ® symbol after your Chinese trademark. If a mark is not yet registered, you may use TM for goods or SM for services, however, since China is not a "first to use" country, it will not grant you any common law rights.
8.3 Trademark Validity in China
A registered trademark in China is valid for 10 years from the date of registration. The mark can be renewed for periods of 10 years, more details are available here: Trademark Renewal in China
You must use the mark in China as you registered it. If you don't use your mark for 3 consecutive years, the mark will become vulnerable to cancellations and others will be able to cancel it if they decide to start this legal procedure.
In most countries, you will not lose a mark automatically if you don't use it. Notable exclusions are the USA, Mexico, the Philippines where you must submit a Declaration of Use every 3-5 years.
8.4 Competitors and similar marks
The Trademark Office might refuse any similar mark for similar products, but we recommend getting a Trademark Watch in order to track any similar marks independently. This way you will be able to spot any similar marks and submit an opposition during their publication stage in order to prevent those marks from registering.
8.5 How to maintain your mark after registration?
1.You have an obligation to use the mark in commerce. If you stop using the mark for 3 consecutive years your mark might be cancelled by anyone who starts the cancellation process
2. You must keep your details up to date, if the name of your company was changed you should submit the change at the Trademark Office, the same applies to the address. Otherwise, there might be difficulties when you have to enforce your mark and if you decide to sell it.
3. We offer Change of Address and Change of Name services and will help you to keep your details up to date.
4. Keep your trademark certificate safe. You don’t want to lose it as it will be required to renew your mark 10 years after registration.
📆 9. Trademark Renewal in China
A trademark is valid for 10 years from the date of registration. The owner of the mark must timely renew the trademark or the mark will be abandoned (canceled). The Trademark Office will notify the representative of the mark owner but takes no obligations to do so. The owner is obliged to track renewal dates.
The renewal must be submitted 6 months before the expiration date or within 6 months of the grace period.
Trademark renewal schedule and fees
The price is 469$ per class, please note that each extra class in China is a separate trademark registration and the same price applies to each extra class renewal. The government fee is included in the price. Contact us for additional case-based discounts.
Trademark renewal process
Please contact us using the following form in order to request a trademark renewal. The process is rather simple, our attorney will become your representative and will pay the renewal fee. Since a set of documents is required to renew a mark we will need at least 2 weeks before the expiration date to make sure that we have time to prepare all the required forms and submit the renewal.
Best time to start a renewal process
The best time to begin the process of renewing a registered mark in China (PRC) is from 3 months before the expiration date to at least 1 month before the expiration date.
How to apply for a renewal
Renewal Documents required:
- Individual owners requires a scan of a personal document, while the company must provide a scan of a company certificate/business license;
- A scan copy of the trademark registration certificate;
- The fee for the trademark renewal.
- A Power of Attorney (scan)
The renewal documents are prepared by our attorney as they are partially in Chinese.
How fast the process is
The process takes approximately 1 month, and a Notice of Renewal is issued.
Possible issues during the renewal process
There is a potential issue with the documents to prove identity. In 2022, photo all types of ID's other than passport are no longer accepted.
In some cases, trademark owners failed to provide a trademark certificate required to renew a mark, in this case a copy certificate had to be requested at the Trademark Office. This process costs around US$200 and takes a month.
What if the deadline is missed?
You can still renew a mark within a grace period of 6 months paying the official fee of US$40 per class and a legal fee. After the 6 months of the grace period the mark will become expired. You can request a new mark
Official Trademark Office in China
- Name of Office: China Patent & Trademark Office
- Address: Zhuoyue Square, Lane 20 Hulan West Road, Shanghai, China
- Phone number: 0086-21-65530729
Our local intellectual property IP attorneys will prepare and file your trademark for registration in the country, via the Chinese trademark office. Trademarks are filed at the China Patent & Trademark Office, China uses the "first-to-file" policy. No evidence of use is required upon filing of a trademark application. However, the Chinese trademark law protects unregistered trademarks if the mark is recognised as a well-known mark in China.
There is a separate trademark law in Hong Kong. Intellectual property rights registered in China will not be automatically protected in Hong Kong and vice versa.
China has been a member of WIPO since 1980. Also, China has been a member of the Madrid Agreement since October 4, 1989 and the Madrid Protocol since December 1, 1995.
With 1.997.000 trademark applications filed each year, only 107.000 are filed by foreign applicants, which demonstrates the understanding of how important the trademarks are for local businesses.
Registering the brand in Chinese is highly advisable if you plan to sell in this market within the next 3-5 years. The China Patent & Trademark Office only accepts documents submitted in Chinese language