Registering your trademark locally is the only way of protecting your brand in China and Hong Kong. Many international companies overlook this step and end up facing legal challenges that slow down their entry into this promising market. Fortunately, this can be easily avoided with a timely trademark registration.
Why register my trademark locally?
- Business requirement: If you want to enter a licensing agreement with a local distributor or manufacturer, a trademark registration is needed. Most e-commerce platforms also require it.
- Local only: Chinese and Hong Kong systems do not recognise or protect trademarks that have only been registered overseas.
- “First to file”: In China, whoever files for a trademark first owns it. Proving that you are the first to create or use a brand overseas is generally irrelevant.
- “Trademark squatters”: It is a widespread practice in China for “squatters” to register international brands in bad faith, e.g. to re-sell the trademark for a high price.
- Court rulings: Chinese Courts have often ruled in favor of trademark squatters due to a strict interpretation of the “first to file” rule.
1.“I don’t need to register my trademark in China because I am only sourcing there, not selling.”
You may be underestimating your brand’s international recognition. Suppliers or trademark squatters could register your trademark and use your image and reputation to sell products.
2.“I will file my trademark once I establish a company in China.”
A trademark registration takes much longer than a company registration in both China and Hong Kong, so it should be the very first step to your market entry.
3.“My local distributor can register the trademark for me.”
Allowing a distributor to register your trademark on your behalf is risky. An experienced and trustworthy distributor should ask you to register your trademark yourself.
How we can help
Fiducia has helped numerous clients to protect their internationally renowned brands in China, Hong Kong, and other Asian markets. Our Corporate Services Consultants can support you at each step of the registration process.
- Official search: We search local databases to check if your trademark or a similar one has already been filed or registered.
- Advisory: We recommend which categories of goods and services to register your trademark under, help you find a fitting Chinese transliteration for your brand name, and advice you on other best practices.
- Application: We handle all the documentation for a trademark application on your behalf. The timeframe for a registration is 6-12 months in Hong Kong and 12-18 months in China.
- Renewal: Trademarks are valid for 10 years after approval. We will remind you when your registration must be renewed and handle the process on your behalf.
Get in touch with our Corporate Services Team for further details about our trademark registration support and other services.