German Ticker Februar/März 2016, Trademark Disputes with squatters

Im German Ticker, dem Magazine der German Chamber of Commerce in China (AHK), Ausgabe Februar/März 2016, hat Daniel Albrecht einen Fachartikel zum Thema Trademark Disputes with squatters - "How to protect your IP", veröffentlicht.  

Die AHK Greater China, als Teil des weltweiten AHK-Netzwerkes, ist die Schlüsselorganisation für die Vertretung deutscher Interessen im Auftrag der deutschen Bundesregierung in China. Mit fünf Hauptbüros sowie acht weiteren Büros in Greater China und Deutschland repräsentiert sie deutsche Unternehmensinteressen und setzt sich für den Ausbau der bilateralen Wirtschaftsbeziehungen ein.

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Aus dem Artikel: 

"The trade mark application volume in China continues increase rapidly. The State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC) has announced that 2.1 million single-class trade mark applications were received in China in the first nine months of 2015, an increase of 37% on the same period in 2014.

Companies which delay the registration of their trade mark in China now, may discover that someone else has already taken possession of their brand. This persons known as trademark "squatters". Savvy to China's complex trademark laws, these individuals target valuable foreign brands and register them as trademarks in China.

When this occurs, a company may be prevented not only from selling their goods within China, they may also be prevented from manufacturing products in China for export elsewhere — unless the business owner pays the trademark squatter to buy their mark back. Then, when the legitimate brand owner sets foot in China and attempts to do business there, they will suddenly be faced with three choices: give in to the squatter’s demands, re-brand, or litigate through lengthy legal battles.

The trademark application in China follows the principle of “Earlier Application, Earlier Being Granted”. There is no common law protection for unregistered trade marks in the PRC, except possibly for well-known marks although recent cases show that trade mark owners of well-known brands are fighting an uphill battle once trade mark squatters register the Chinese names or marks of their well-known brands in the PRC. For this reason, it is advisable to file trade mark applications in China as soon as possible.

Even though your initial marketing launch into the Chinese market is likely to be in Latin script, the majority of China’s 1.35 billion population does not read or speak English, or any other foreign language. For this reason, Chinese consumers of your products or services will devise their own Chinese name or mark for your products or services rather than using your Latin script mark, even if your Latin script mark is well known. At some point, a trade mark squatter is likely to take up the Chinese version of your mark or name, and register it with the China Trade Marks Office (CTMO)."