Common problems of trademark use in China

Common problems of trademark use in China

Common problems of trademark use in China

Trademark registrants are required to keep their registered trademarks in use on a consistent and ongoing basis in order to retain their distinctiveness. However, trademark owners with a large number of registered trademarks may face difficulties.

The PRC’s Criteria for Trademark Examination, Review, and Adjudication define trademark use as the act of using a trademark to distinguish the origins of goods on goods, product packaging or containers, and commercial transaction documents, as well as in advertisements, exhibitions, and other commercial activities. The author has discovered four frequent trademark issues.

The name of the trademark proprietor or licensee is incorrectly described. This difficulty is common in transnational or large organizations with complicated organizational structures, where IP is frequently registered in the name of the parent company and trademark use is outsourced to subsidiary companies. In a corporation with too many subsidiaries, in-house workers may not know the exact names of all of its subsidiaries’ legal people, and corporate names on evidential documents are the accepted forms of addressing the corporation internally rather than legal persons’ registered names.

Unauthorised change of registered trademark

This refers to a trademark holder’s taking the liberty of changing a word or character, letter, numeral, 3D shape, colour combination, etc., of a trademark, which changes the main part and distinctive features of the mark, resulting in unrecognised use of the mark. There are many reasons for trademark change. The common case of non-standardised use of trademarks includes using the components of a mark separately and changing the font, colour, word or character of a mark. All these cases are liable to lead to a radical change of a mark’s distinctiveness.

There is no indication of when the trademark was first used. Many marketing brochures lack a date when the materials or evidence first became available. Copyright statements, such as (C)2021, may be required to prove the approximate dates of their existence, and actual stores should be photographed beside a newspaper from the target day to preserve temporal proof.

“False” lack of evidence of trademark use. To differentiate between the positions of goods and brands, corporations formulate their trademark strategies as per adopting the classification of main trademarks, sub-marks, or even sub-submarks. However, it is not easy to preserve the evidence of using all their marks. For example, it is usually difficult for a trademark handler to list all relevant trademarks on the sales contracts, invoices or other formatted documents. Only main trademarks are listed on some contracts, or, fortunately, sub-marks are also listed. This leads to a situation in which the true use of some sub-marks cannot be reflected in sales documents. Common and grave problems about trademark use also exist with invoices. Many invoices only bear the name of goods, but lack trademarks.

Standardised use of trademarks

When necessary, concluding IP license agreements and obtaining trademark licenses. When a trademark holder licenses the use of his or her trademark, it’s crucial to sign a license agreement with the licensee. Trademark holders should record their significant trademark licenses so that the Trademark Office can issue an authorized and widely acknowledged recordal notification.

Creating trademark usage manuals to train employees on how to utilize trademarks consistently. The more complex a company’s division of labor is, the larger it is. Different departments have varying levels of IP awareness and understanding. The use of trademarks, on the other hand, is a common job for all departments. The IP department is in charge of creating a guide for other departments that encourages or requires them to use trademarks in a consistent manner.

Regularly educating employees on how to use trademarks in a consistent manner. The in-house IP department of a corporation plays a key role in ensuring that the company’s trademarks are used consistently. IP professionals are in charge of utilizing all resources to give regular training to help employees gain knowledge and practice in trademark use.

Collecting proof of trademark use on a regular basis and coordinating trademark preservation and administration. The IP department should periodically collect and retain evidence of large trademark usage, and unify the management of the bank of trademark use evidence to review trademark standardisation.

Non-standard trademark use does not always mean trademark rights are lost, as a defense can be mounted by creating an evidence chain. However, it raises questions about how registered trademarks should be managed. To protect their brands’ fundamental rights, trademark owners should use trademarks consistently.

***Other Articles***

– You could see How To Register Trademark in China here.

– You could visit here to see Procedure of Trademark in China.

– You could visit here to check Required documents of filing trademark in China.

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