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Trademark monitoring can prevent infringement and unauthorized brand usage

Registering a trademark in China is a critical first step to protect a brand. China is one of the world's largest markets, with a rapidly growing economy and a vast consumer base, making it an attractive destination for businesses seeking to expand globally. With the rise of cross-border e-commerce and globalization, trademark protection in China has become increasingly important.  


Trademark Search and Registration in China

Failure to do so can lead to devastating consequences, including loss of revenue, reputational damage, and legal disputes. Understanding and implementing effective solutions against challenges such as trademark squatting is crucial for businesses operating in or entering the Chinese market. 


A company’s identity is one of its most valuable assets. Customers recognize and trust a brand’s reputation, which can significantly impact the success of the business. Protecting the integrity and exclusivity of a brand must be a constant priority for a company, especially in this current highly competitive market.  



Trademark monitoring  


This practice can be crucial for a company’s reputation. Trademark monitoring is a proactive and systematic approach to prevent infringement, unauthorized usage, and dilution. When a company regularly monitors its trademarks, it can ensure the future of its brands and business. 


Brand Integrity 


Preserving brand integrity is one of the main goals of trademark monitoring. When done regularly, companies can identify products or services with similar brands filed by others, which could represent potential infringement or unauthorized use of brand elements, such as logos, names, slogans, or designs. 


This practice enables a company to take quick action against infringement, protect intellectual property rights and maintain control over brand identity. Effective monitoring guarantees that the brand's visual and verbal assets are not misused or diluted, safeguarding its distinctiveness and reputation. 


Registration of infringing trademark 


In China, anyone can file an opposition against a trademark before it becomes officially registered, during the opposition period. Monitoring early in the process if similar brands are being registered can save a company a lot of time and money, instead of filing a lawsuit after the infringement behavior happened. 

On the other hand, monitoring competitors' trademark portfolio can help a company better understand the market layout and brand strategy of other enterprises in the same industry. 


Preventing infringement 


The consequences for a brand when infringement happens can be devastating, and it could include loss of market share, revenue, and customer trust. Early detection of infringement can enable a business to move quickly and take the necessary legal steps to prevent further unauthorized use and protect its market position. 


Reputation risks 


Protecting brand reputation is one of the most important things a company should do, especially in a time when social media and viral content can make or break a brand. Detecting instances in which a brand’s reputation can be seriously compromised is a big part of trademark monitoring. Whether it is through negative associations, unauthorized endorsements, or deceptive practices, monitoring allows businesses to address such issues promptly, minimizing potential damage to their brand image and customer perception. 


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Establishing a strong brand presence in China can help deter squatters. Public awareness campaigns and consistent branding efforts can solidify a trademark’s reputation, making it more challenging for squatters to successfully claim rights to it. 


Intellectual property rights 


Companies can proactively enforce their intellectual property rights through trademark monitoring. They can identify possible infringements by checking social media channels, online marketplaces, and other websites, as well as print media.  




This strategy can help a company act swiftly, implementing actions such as sending cease-and-desist letters, filing lawsuits, or engaging in alternative dispute resolution methods, to protect their trademarks and brand identity. 


Competitive advantage 


In this highly competitive market, maintaining a competitive advantage is key. By actively monitoring the market and identifying unauthorized use or attempts to imitate the brand, businesses can stay one step ahead of their competitors. This strategy will help companies to differentiate their products or services, preserve their market position, and uphold the unique value proposition that sets them apart from others. 


Non-Use Cancellation Law  


Foreign companies operating in China have a significant opportunity to protect their trademarks through the non-use cancellation law. This provision is particularly beneficial in the context of the prevalent issue of trademark squatting. The law states that if a registered trademark has not been used for three consecutive years in China, it becomes vulnerable to cancellation. 


Businesses can monitor the market for any instances of their trademark being registered but not used by others, particularly by those engaging in bad-faith registrations. Once a period of three years of non-use has passed, companies have the right to petition for the cancellation of these squatted trademarks. 


This approach not only helps in reclaiming rights over trademarks but also acts as a deterrent against potential squatters. Knowing that non-use can lead to cancellation, entities are less likely to register trademarks they don’t intend to use, thereby reducing the instances of squatting. 


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The non-use cancellation law aids foreign companies in navigating the first-to-file system in China. Despite not being the first to register the trademark, companies can still secure their rights through this legal mechanism, provided the current registrant is not actively using the trademark. 


It offers a practical and legal pathway to challenge and potentially overturn trademark registrations made in bad faith, thereby reinforcing their brand protection in a challenging market. 




Conclusion 


Adopting a strategic and proactive approach is essential for brand protection, especially in a market where brand identity and intellectual property are at constant risk. 


Early registration, vigilant monitoring, legal action, effective collaboration with authorities, and strong branding are key to navigating these challenges.  


Regular monitoring and proactive measures can protect brand identity and reputation, as well as mitigate risks and safeguard intellectual property rights. By implementing these strategies, businesses can preserve their trademarks and maintain a strong brand presence in China's dynamic market. 



 

Woodburn Accountants & Advisors is one of China’s most trusted business setup advisory firms.


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.

 

Talk to an expert


Schedule a 30-mins complimentary, no-obligation call to see how Woodburn can help you.  

Book a call with our Head of Business Advisory - Kristina Koehler-Coluccia. In this free discovery call we will discuss your Greater China strategy, business plan, market entry and growth. Topics we can advise on include:

  • Business Advisory

  • Trademark Registration

  • Employer-of-Record 

  • Company Formation

  • Ongoing Administration Services

  • Operational Compliance

  • Human Resource and Recruitment

  • or any other business-related questions.

Our calls are automatically scheduled via Zoom - or via Teams, WeChat or WhatsApp upon direct request. 

Our advisory calls are available from Monday-Friday from 8am to 5pm CEST and Wednesday until 9pm CEST (for those based in the Americas).




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Woodburn Accountants & Advisors is one of China and Hong Kong’s
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