How to Protect Your Intellectual Property Rights in China

When you come to do business in China, it is very important for you to pay attention to protection of your patent, trademark, copyright and other intellectual property rights. For foreign companies that come to china to attend exhibition and enter the Chinese market afterwards, we would like to provide you with relevant information on the Chinese IPR protection for you.

Before a foreign company enters Chinese market, it is advisable to sufficiently consider various risks that it may encounter, inter alia, potential risk of intellectual property.

IPR’s under Chinese law mainly refer to trademark, patent and copyright, but a number of similar intangible properties shall be included in the discussion as well.

Trademarks can include product marks, service marks, certification marks or collective marks that contain “prominent characteristics”. Certain words however, including country names, official symbols, exaggerated or fraudulent claims, and generic names, may not be registered as trademarks. Well-known trademarks may be recognized but only under certain conditions.

1.1 Seeking Sufficient Protection
Since China is the country of registration system, only registered patents and trademarks are protected in China. Due to the difference in the legal system and practice, it is necessary for a foreign company to make overall strategy anew and take specific measures to obtain sufficient registration and protection of your trademarks and patents in China.

1.2 Being Infringed and counterfeited
For foreign brands, especially reputable foreign brands and products, it is very likely for them to be imitated or copied, in view that awareness and respect of intellectual property protection have not yet become strong in current business environment in China.

1.3 Infringing upon the Rights of Other Parties
If your trademarks and patents are not registered in China, use of your trademarks and patents may infringe upon other’s trademarks and patents. If so, you may be trapped in legal trouble and even worse, driven out of Chinese market.
Therefore, it is advisable to take following measures to protect your IPRs in China.

2.1 Timely filing/registration
When you plan to do business in China, it is better to file to register your trademarks and patents as early as possible.

2.2 Rights-safeguarding and anti-counterfeit
When you are aware of any infringing activity upon your trademarks and patents, you may claim your rights to stop the infringing and counterfeiting activities via administrative and judicial means, or warning letters.

2.3 Pre-assessment of risk
Before a foreign company enters Chinese market, it is advisable to conduct due diligence to make sure of risk of infringement by selling your products in China, and take necessary precautionary measures, such as searching the patent database and trademark database, etc..

2.4 Tracking competitors
In the process of exploiting Chinese market, a foreign company should constantly pay attention to its competitor’s strategy and use of patents and trademarks in order to make and update strategy for competition.

2.5 Conducting patent analysis
A foreign company should also periodically collect information from market surrounding its core technology in order to provide basis for their technology research, technology cooperation, and investment decision and so on.

2.6 Well-known Trademark Fostering
As a long-run strategy, a foreign company should better obtain recognition of well-known mark for their primary brands in China. A well-known mark may enjoy expanded legal protection and commercial benefits as well.

2.7 Commercial Exploitation via License and Assignment
As intangible assets, a foreign company can maximize the value and income through license or assignment of intellectual property rights, such as patents and trademarks to a third-party, especially when your trademarks and patented products become reputable.