Five steps to take by 5/1 to protect your trademarks in China

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China’s eagerly anticipated amendments to its trademark law come into force on 1 May 2014. This new legislation aims to modernise and streamline the trademark process, strengthen trademark enforcement and make trademark squatting and counterfeiting more difficult. But it can also yield opportunities for trademark hijackers.

Here are the top five steps to take now to protect your trademarks.

1. Do a trademark audit
The new law makes opposition difficult. One of the most important changes in the new trademark law is the removal of the opponent’s right to file a review against the Trademark Office’s decision in an opposition if the initial opposition does not prevail. In that case, the only option remaining would be to file for cancellation. Judging from the China Trademark Office’s (CTMO’s) prior track record, the chance of success in an opposition is not high. This means that you should timely do an audit to identify the gaps in their portfolios and then try to fill these gaps before the new law comes in. Unlike in the US, in China there is no use or intention-to-use requirement to file (it is purely a first-to-file system). Any gaps in a portfolio could allow hijackers to acquire your marks…

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