September 15, 2013
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INTA Welcomes New China Trademark Law
Following several years of study and revision, China’s Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress has passed new trademark law provisions that should improve trademark owners’ ability to enforce their rights and deter infringers. The statute aligns with many of the proposals submitted by INTA throughout the legislative process.
The Association is particularly pleased by an increase in statutory damages from RMB 500,000 (US $82,000) in the old law to RMB 3 million (US $500,000) in the amended law—nearly six times the previous maximum award. In cases where an infringer is determined to have acted in bad faith, courts may also enforce treble damages, which allows for an increase of up to three times the maximum award. These improvements will act as a major deterrent to infringers and send a strong message that China will not tolerate violation of trademark rights.
Administrative penalties were also increased, including maximum fines of up to 500% of profits from illegal use of a trademark. Previously, the maximum was set at three times the illegal profit, or, in cases where it was not possible to determine the illegal profits, a maximum of RMB 100,000 (US $12,000).
The new law also includes a general provision stating that trademark applications should be submitted in good faith, and expands upon several provisions relating to bad-faith registration. These include provisions targeting trademark agents who act in bad faith and applicants for marks that are identical or similar to an existing trademark when the applicant has had a “prior relationship” to the trademark owner. INTA looks forward to seeing the Implementing Regulations, which will help to clarify these provisions and how they will be enforced.
While INTA advocated against a provision eliminating appeals of oppositions in the first instance, the Association recognizes the China Trademark Office (CTMO) as being one of the largest and most important trademark offices in the world, and is hopeful that improved examination of oppositions in the coming years will help to eliminate much of the need for judicial appeals.
China’s Supreme People’s Court also will be working on judicial interpretations of the new law in the coming months.
INTA has longstanding relationships with both the Supreme Court and the CTMO, and will continue to hold regular meetings with officials as the Implementing Regulations and interpretations are drafted in order to raise the concerns of industry. For more information, please contact INTA’s Manager for External Relations, Asia-Pacific, Seth Hays, at email@example.com.
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© 2013 International Trademark Association