In November, 2021, China National Intellectual Property Administration (CNIPA) issued Announcement No. 462, releasing the Guidelines for Trademark Examination and Trial (“Guidelines”), effective January 1, 2022, to supersede the previous Standards for Trademark Examination and Trial.
The Guidelines is aimed to standardize the procedures for trademark examination and trial and ensure that the application of laws and standards in all procedures of trademark examination and trial are consistent. Since the implementation of the Trademark Law in 1983, this is the first comprehensive set of trademark examination and trial standards which cover the whole proceedings of trademark prosecution. The issuance of the Guidelines as a normative announcement of the CNIPA is a great milestone in the development of trademark-related regulations.
On May 10, 2021, the CNIPA issued a notice which clearly stated that "By the end of 2021, the average examination period for trademark registration will stabilize at less than 4 months, and the period for trademark registration that meets general situations will be reduced from 8 months to 7 months". The so-called "general situations" means that the formalities for registration of a trademark application are in place, and the trademark application can be directly granted a preliminary approval or rejected upon examination, and there is no follow-up procedure such as rejection review or opposition. For trademark applications that meet general situations, the average registration period from the date of filing to the announcement of trademark registration is reduced to seven months.
In order to allow the public to effectively and equally benefit from the reform of innovation environment, and also in order to enhance the satisfaction of the public, the trademark office of the CNIPA formulated the Opinions on Determining the Scope of Trademark Applications That Meet General Situations (“Opinions”) based on their experiences in trademark examination. The Opinions is aimed to precisely determine the scope of trademark applications that meet general situations, promote the reduction of trademark registration period in accordance with the law, and thus enable the trademark applications that meet general situations to truly benefit from the reform.
The CNIPA released the English-language Guidelines for the Legal Protection and Enforcement of Chinese Trademarks. The Guidelines “introduce China’s trademark protection system in detail, covering the entire process of registration application, review, opposition, infringement and relief, and provides online search, online application, and trademark protection strategies.”.
You can download the full text of the Guidelines Here.
From December 1, 2021, the CNIPA will collect fees for international phase of PCT applications based on the amounts in CNY published by the World Intellectual Property Office (WIPO).
For the PCT applications filed and received on or after December 1, 2021, and the requests for preliminary examination received on or after December 1, 2021, CNIPA will charge the relevant fees based on the following standards:
1) International Filing Fee
International application document within 30 pages:
Per page in excess of 30
E-filing Reductions (for PDF format)
E-filing Reductions (for XML format)
2) Formality Fee CNY1390
The WIPO will annually publish the amounts in CNY of fees payable for international phase of PCT applications and the amounts are to be valid for one year. However, if there are big changes in currency exchange rates, the amounts in CNY will be adjusted accordingly.
In the latest move to shore up its business environment, China has unveiled a new blueprint for the protection of intellectual property rights over the next five years, pledging to effectively curb IPR infringement.
Officials and experts said that the five-year plan recently issued by the State Council, China's Cabinet, has laid out goals for tougher legislation and paved the way for stronger law enforcement in key sectors.
According to the document, China will enforce a punitive compensation system for IPR infringements to curb violations.
Amendments will be made to the patent, trademark, copyright and antitrust laws, and legislation regarding a product's geographical indication and commercial secrets will be ramped up.
The document calls for the improvement of the protective mechanisms covering emerging areas and new business models, including big data, artificial intelligence and gene technology, and aims to boost research into the formulation of data IPR protection regulations.
Protection for intangible cultural heritage will be stepped up, and stronger safeguards for sports, entertainment programs and livestreaming will be implemented. The government will also establish a damage evaluation mechanism for IPR infringements, the document added.
China will launch a special program for data IPR protection, explore related legislation and promote amendments to relevant laws and regulations.
China will take steady, proactive steps to develop IPR finance, including measures to refine the financing system through IPR mortgages, as well as improve the risk management mechanism.
China is endeavoring to promote a broader and deeper opening-up of the intellectual property rights sector to boost international IPR cooperation during the 14th Five-Year Plan period (2021-25), said the IPR authorities at press conference. The IPR authorities have drafted three major moves targeted to make breakthroughs in IPR global cooperation.
Firstly, China will actively participate in the IPR global governance, play roles in improving international rules on IPR, and actively promote multilateral and bilateral intellectual property negotiations related to the economy and trade.
China will strengthen cooperation and consultation with the WIPO, as well as promote improvement to IPR international rules and standards related to international trade and investment.
The country will also study and participate in the formulation of IPR international rules and standards in new fields and new business forms.
Secondly, China will improve its international cooperation on IPR, strengthen mechanisms for IPR international cooperation, and optimize the environment for IPR international cooperation.
Thirdly, China will strengthen international cooperation in IPR protection, facilitate overseas IPR acquisition, and strengthen assistance in IPR disputes.
China will strengthen international cooperation in IPR reviews, support better use of the WIPO global service system, and establish international IPR risk early-warning and emergency response mechanisms.
CNIPA has recently accepted the first two administrative adjudication cases on major patent infringement disputes in accordance with relevant provisions in the Patent Law of the People's Republic of China and the Administrative Adjudication Measures for Major Patent infringement Disputes.
The requestor submitted the request materials for administrative adjudication in accordance with Article 5 of the Administrative Adjudication Measures for Major Patent infringement Disputes, and reported to relevant local IP offices to issue the supporting evidence that meets the circumstances described in Article 3 of the Measures. After examination, CNIPA filed the cases, issued the notice of acceptance, appointed case-handling personnel to form a panel, and assigned technical inquisitors of relevant fields to engage in the handing of the cases.
In the future, CNIPA will, in strict accordance with relevant provisions of the Patent Law and the Measures, ensure effective handling of administrative adjudication of related cases, organize oral hearings in accordance with procedures, and make administrative adjudication decisions in time, in order to maintain the market order of fair competition and guarantee the legitimate interests of IPR holders and the public.
Increased international competitiveness in the area of intellectual property (IP) is one of China's achievements in transforming from a big IP importer to an innovator, said the CNIPA in Beijing.
To summarize the achievements, Lei Xiaoyun, a senior official with the administration, cited three indicators, one being the trade of China's IP royalties, which was close to 280 billion yuan (about $44 billion) in the first three quarters of this year. The export volume of IP royalties, in particular, increased over 27 percent year on year.
The second one is the Global Innovation Index by the WIPO, in which China climbed to 12th this year, up two notches from 14th in 2020, ranking first among the world's mid-income economies.
"China has risen 23 places in the rankings since 2012. The continuous growth reflects China's decades-long commitment to investing in science, technology and education, as well as its progress in building a modern and effective IP system," Lei noted.
The third indicator is China's IP pledge financing, or the use of IP assets (trademarks and patents) to gain access to credit, which reached 240.77 billion yuan between January and October, up 50.6 percent year on year, already exceeding the total amount of that in 2020, according to Lei.
China has deepened its international cooperation in the field of intellectual property rights (IPR) protection, becoming an active proponent of international rules for IPR, said an official with the CNIPA.
In summarizing the country's achievements in international cooperation on IPR, Hu Wenhui, a spokesperson for the CNIPA, highlighted that China has made decisive progress in joining the Hague Agreement for the international registration of industrial designs, a mechanism aimed at boosting intellectual property protection.
"China has successfully promoted the renminbi as the pricing and settlement currency of international expenses related to the Patent Cooperation Treaty," Hu said, adding that Chinese has become the working language of the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants.
Another example, Hu said, is that China has implemented the China-EU Agreement on Geographical Indications, with 244 China-EU geographical indications (GIs) being mutually recognized and protected.
A GI shows a product has a specific geographical origin and possesses qualities or a reputation due to that origin. It can be seen as a quality guarantee that distinguishes it from its competitors.
To offer guidance to Chinese entities on resolving overseas intellectual property disputes, China has also established 22 centers worldwide, handling over 480 cases to date, according to the CNIPA.