China amends trademark law: practical implications for brand owners

By Horace Lam and Edward Chatterton

China’s eagerly anticipated amendments to its Trademark Law will come into force on 1 May 2014. This gives brand owners just a few months to come to grips with the practical implications of the new law.

Under the existing law, if an opponent is unsuccessful in opposition proceedings before the Chinese Trade Mark Office (CTMO), it may appeal the decision to the Trademark Review and Adjudication Board (TRAB). However, under perhaps the most far-reaching amendment of the new law, an unsuccessful opponent will no longer be able to appeal the CTMO’s decision, but must file a cancellation action at the TRAB. The trademark applicant, on the other hand, will continue to have a right to appeal the CTMO’s decision to the TRAB.

An opponent’s right of appeal to the TRAB has in practice been of great importance to brand owners because the TRAB typically takes a more nuanced approach than the CTMO. Unfortunately, given the high workload of CTMO examiners, it is not uncommon for errors to be made, resulting in credible oppositions against pirate marks initially being refused…

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