Recently China has been in the news again with their adoption of a revised Trademark Law. In discussion for almost ten years, the new law was passed on August 30th and marks the third time the original 1982 law had been amended. It will officially take effect on May 1st of next year and features some noteworthy changes. Over fifty revisions are a part of the new legislation, mainly falling into two groups, the first which will increase efficiency and transparency and the second which involves making considerable increases in protection of trademark rights.
Some of the key points to improve efficiency and transparency fall under the categories of filing, opposition, invalidation, and revocation. As is already a common place practice on the international stage, a multi-class application system will be put into place, meant to ease the registration process. A preliminary approval of a registration submission must be approved within nine months. Once this process has been completed, oppositions can be filed for up to three months after the preliminary approval has been published in the official gazette. Opposition proceedings must then be completed within a year. Any possible invalidation proceedings now need to be completed within nine months from the request date and can only be requested by prior right holders and relevant parties. Finally, the revocation of a trademark for becoming “generic” or because of non-use must again be completed with nine months from the request date. All of these changes will ensure trademark reviews will now last only approximately twelve months rather than the average thirty months that is the current norm
The protections of the trademark law will now extend to sound and will no longer extend to similar products and goods of a well-known trademark. This latter provision became necessary due to the widespread abuse of this approach. In addition, the concept of “good faith” now has teeth as it has now been officially defined. Finally, monetary payment for damages caused by trademark infringement have also been increased providing further protections.
With over eight million registered trademarks, the most in the world, a more efficient and fair law is just what China needed. The adoption of China’s new Trademark Law by its government is not only increasing confidence for businesses in the Chinese trademark at home, but also abroad. This law will show foreign enterprises that they can be assured of the fairness and protection of a trademark from China.