Understanding the general timeline for trademark registration in China is an important part of developing your international trademark plan. The average timeframe for basic trademark proceedings is:
- Basic application – 6-9 months
- Oppositions – 12-18 months
- Renewals – 1 month
One of the most critical steps to registration in China is to start the process as soon as possible, to both utilize your U.S. priority date and to keep bad faith registrants from intentionally registering your mark (read our tips on fighting bad faith registrations in China). Keep in mind, China has one of the busiest trademark offices in the world, which can slow the process to register significantly.
Start Chinese Trademark Registration as Soon as Possible
China is a first-to-file country, which means that trademark protections are typically granted to the first business or individual to file a trademark application. This benefits new businesses that may not be able to show the trademark in use at the time of registration, but it also ushers in bad faith registrations. Unfortunately, it’s common practice for these bad faith registrants to knowingly file someone else’s trademark, with the intent to sell counterfeit goods under the mark or even ransom the mark to its rightful owner at a much higher price. For this reason, it is important to begin the Chinese trademark registration as soon as possible.
File your Chinese trademark registration within six months of submitting your home country’s trademark application. This allows you to use your original priority date on your Chinese trademark application. Anyone looking to register a similar mark after that date may not be granted trademark ownership. There is very little recourse against bad faith registrations, but the best defense against this practice is to simply be the first to register your mark in China.
Timeframe for a Basic Chinese Trademark Registration
Over five million trademark applications were filed in China in 2017, and that number continues to climb. While the Chinese Trademark Office, or CTMO, developed new trademark processing guidelines in 2016, shrinking the examination period from six months to three months, it can often take several months before your trademark application is even assigned an examiner. While the CTMO tries to process basic applications within 6-9 months from start to finish, the process is typically much longer. Expect at least 12-18 months from the time you submit your application until you receive approval.
Timeframe for Filing Trademark Oppositions
If you find your trademark has already been registered in China, and you feel that this registration is in bad faith, you can file an Opposition. However, the opposition process is incredibly lengthy. The average review time for an opposition is 11 months, with the timeframe for a ruling on the opposition taking anywhere from 12 to 18 months on average.
If you don’t wish to wait out the opposition process, you may have other options. First, you can change your trademark to avoid potential infringement. Sometimes only small changes are needed to gain approval, but in some situations, more large scale changes may be needed. Consider choosing a different translation. For instance, if you planned to translate your business or product name phonetically, you can instead translate the meaning of the word. The other, much less appealing option is to pay the current owner to transfer your trademark rights. Work with an experienced trademark attorney to understand your rights and to determine the right course of action.
Timeframe for Filing Renewals
Your Chinese trademark registration won’t expire, as long as you meet renewal deadlines. As a Chinese trademark owner, you will need to renew your trademark every ten years. The average time to process a renewal application is around one month. However, given that delays are common with the CTMO, it’s best to start the renewal process up to six months before your renewal date approaches to ensure you meet the deadline.
Average Length of Other Trademark Proceedings
The following is a list of additional Chinese trademark processes. The timeframes are averages, but it’s important to note that the actual times may be much longer in some situations.
- Cancellations – 8-9 months
- Change of agent – 1 month
- Change of address – 1 month
- Change of applicant – 1 month
- Reissue of a trademark certificate – 2 months
- Deletion of goods or services from application – 3 months
- Request for a certified copy of priority documents – 2 months
Chinese Trademark Timelines
In order to protect your trademark and brand overseas, it is important to register your trademark in China. Because it is a first-to-file country, be sure to file as soon as possible, preferably within six months of filing your home country’s trademark application, so that you can use your original priority date. While CTMO has worked to speed the registration process, its best to plan 12-18 months for your application to be processed. Then be sure to file for renewal every 10 years, starting the process within six months of your renewal date to ensure you meet the deadline. Contact an experienced trademark attorney today to learn more about Chinese trademark registration.