Happy Chinese New Year: Year of the Rooster

30 January 2017

On 28 January 2017, we celebrated the Year of the Rooster.

With Chinese New Year in mind, if you are a UK business thinking of operating in the country, below are some of our top tips for protecting your brand in China:

  • The Chinese courts are increasingly prepared to take a rational, commercially realistic approach to enforcement of intellectual property rights akin to that adopted by the European courts, but often brands need to appeal several times in order to obtain the favourable outcomes. 
  • To avoid lengthy legal proceedings and in cases where the Western brand does not have a prior reputation in China, it remains critical to apply to protect your brand as a Chinese trade mark at the earliest possible stage. 
  • Trade mark registrations are fundamentally important to conducting business in China, and it is common practice for local companies to search the internet for upcoming Western businesses and register their brands as their own. 
  • If you wait until you have established the brand in Europe and wish to enter the Chinese market, you may find that a third party has already registered your brand in China. 
  • Under China’s first-to-register brand protection system, and despite some recent legal changes to improve the position against bad faith applicants, it can be extremely difficult to dislodge such a registration.
  • The creation of specialised IP courts in Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou in 2014 has given foreign companies more confidence in the system. The chances of a successful outcome in litigation are improving all the time, especially in the regions of the new specialist IP courts, making it all the more important for UK companies to participate in the system rather than sit on the sidelines.

The Chinese IP system is improving all the time, however it still remains very different to the UK and European systems, so it is crucial to seek professional advice. Haseltine Lake has extensive experience in China and South East Asia, having had a representative office in Guangzhou since 2009 and last year the firm appointed a dedicated Partner lead for China and South East Asia.

To all our clients, colleagues and friends – we wish you a very happy and prosperous new year!

Year of the rooster 2017

Our Expert

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