In 2020, the CTMO examined 8.78 million trade mark applications, an increase of 6.43% compared to 2019. The average trade mark examination period is reduced to four months, while the average time to obtain trade mark registration is reduced to seven to eight months.
The digitalisation of China’s trade mark examination services has undergone aggressive advancement. The majority of trade mark cases can now be handled online, from their submission to the delivery of their decision, including services such as: filings, reapplication for trade mark certificates, applications for assignment, renewal, and review of trade mark refusals. Trade mark applicants will no longer have to spend significant time and costs in dealing with such matters.
Since 2018, over 150,000 bad faith trade marks have been rejected, an indication of significant progress by the CTMO. Prior to this, it was normal for the CTMO not to make sure whether a trade mark was filed in bad faith. This task was left to the hands of the rights-holders instead. Professional trade mark squatters took advantage of this loophole by pre-emptively registering thousands of trade marks and seeking unfair profits from licensing/selling those trade marks in bad faith.
In recent years, especially after the 2019 Trade Mark Law came into effect, the CTMO has increased its strikes against bad faith TM applications. Furthermore, Article 4 of the Trade Mark Law expressly states that trade marks filed in bad faith without intention to use shall be rejected.
With the CTMO’s more proactive actions, rights holders can expect to spend less in fighting bad faith applications. However, this does not mean that rights holders can simply passively wait for bad faith applications to be rejected. In practice, rights holders can and should help the CTMO identify which trade marks are registered in bad faith.
How can rights holders take action?
Rights holders can actively monitor trade mark filing data via the CTMO website or other useful sources. Once bad faith applications fall into their radar, they should report them to the CTMO as soon as possible.
To prove the reported trade marks are registered in bad faith, rights holders may provide:
Moving forward, a close cooperation with the CTMO may be the best strategy for rights holders to fight against bad faith registrations
Written by: Abraham Chen