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China’s Trademark Office (TMO) implements full online system for opposition cases

In a significant move towards modernization and efficiency, China's Trademark Office (TMO) under the State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) has fully implemented an online application system for opposition cases by trademark agencies. This development marks a transition from traditional paper-based processes to a streamlined digital platform, offering numerous benefits to both domestic and international stakeholders. 


From December 1st, 2023, trademark agencies for opposition business should submit electronic applications through the trademark online service system, and no longer submit paper materials. 


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The SIPO has been at the forefront of intellectual property protection in China, handling trademark registrations and disputes. In recent years, there has been a concerted effort to enhance the efficiency and transparency of these processes, culminating in the full implementation of online applications for opposition cases. 


Trademark agencies should make all necessary preparations and should register an account as soon as possible in the trademark online service system, if they don’t have one already. 

According to the official listing fee from China National Intellectual Property Administration (CNIPA), the fee for e-filing is CNY 450 (U$S 63). 


Currently, the maximum upload size of evidence is only 100MB. This limit is too small for opposition cases that require large amounts of evidence to prove the popularity and influence of the client's brand. This limit may be expanded in the future. 


Background 


The journey towards digital transformation has been a gradual process, with key milestones leading up to the complete implementation: 


  • Pilot Programs (2018-2019): The initial phase involved pilot programs to test the feasibility and functionality of the online system. Stakeholders provided valuable feedback, and adjustments were made to refine the platform. 

  • Partial Implementation (2020-2021): Partial implementation saw a transition period where both online and traditional paper-based submissions were accepted. This allowed trademark agencies to adapt to the new system gradually. 

  • Full Implementation (2023): The complete roll-out of the online application system signifies the TMO's confidence in its stability and effectiveness. 


Benefits of Online Application  

Increased Efficiency: The online platform enables faster processing times, reducing the overall duration of opposition cases. 

Transparency: Stakeholders can track the status of their cases in real-time, promoting transparency and accountability in the adjudication process. 


Cost Savings: The shift to digital applications eliminates the need for physical paperwork, reducing administrative costs for both the TMO and trademark agencies. 


Accessibility: The online system enhances accessibility, allowing trademark agencies from different regions to submit opposition cases without geographical constraints. 


Deadlines and Potential Challenges 


While the online system aims to expedite processes, stakeholders must be mindful of strict deadlines for opposition submissions. Failure to adhere to these timelines may result in case dismissal. 


As with any digital platform, there may be occasional technical glitches. The TMO will have to promptly address and resolve such issues to maintain the system's credibility. 


Challenges for Foreign Companies 


The application system may predominantly use Chinese, posing a challenge for foreign companies unfamiliar with the language. Clear guidelines and translation services must be provided. 


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The online platform requires meticulous submission of evidence. Foreign companies must ensure that their evidence complies with the system's requirements, which may differ from practices in their home countries. 


Conclusion  China's Trademark Office's full implementation of the online application system for opposition cases is a transformative step towards a more efficient and transparent intellectual property landscape.  

While the benefits are substantial, both domestic and foreign stakeholders must adapt to the digital transition, addressing potential challenges to ensure the system's success in safeguarding intellectual property rights.  


 

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Woodburn Accountants & Advisors is specialized in inbound investment to China and Hong Kong. We focus on eliminating the complexities of corporate services and compliance administration. We help clients with services ranging from trademark registration and company incorporation to the full outsourcing solution for accounting, tax, and human resource services. Our advisory services can be tailor-made based on the companies’ objectives, goals and needs which vary depending on the stage they are at on their journey.

 

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