Long awaited amendments contain welcome changes

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    In order to understand the intricacies of the amendments to the Chinese Trademark Law it’s first necessary to have an overview of the changes and what they will mean. In this article, we will look at the more important changes and their impacts.

    The major changes

    • The scope of registrable marks has been expanded by including sound marks
    • Trademark application is made easier by allowing e-filing and multi-class application
    • Timeline for the registration process is substantially shortened by imposing time limits on the Trademark Office (TMO) and the Trademark Appeal Board (TRAB) in making decisions
    • Opponents to trademark applications have no right of appealing unfavourable decisions
    • Prohibition of use of “well-known trademarks” designation in goods, packaging and advertisement
    • Various changes in the processes relating to opposition, invalidation, cancellation and their appeals make the whole registration system more streamlined and efficient
    • Eligibility of a party filing trademark opposition depends on whether the opposition is based on “absolute” or “relative” grounds
    • The bar for protection of unregistered marks is lowered
    • Administrative penalties and statutory damages for trademark infringement have been substantially increased

    Below we will explore some of the more important changes and their impacts in a few areas: trademark application, well-known marks, opposition and cancellation, and protection of trademark rights.

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    Clement Ngai is a partner at Baker & McKenzie in Shanghai. He can be contacted on + 86 21 6105 5960 or by email at Clement.Ngai@bakermckenzie.com