Policy Dialogue Reviews China’s Draft Trademark Examination Manual

Published: July 14, 2021

The China National Intellectual Property Administration (CNIPA) and INTA on July 8 conducted a joint policy dialogue on China’s draft Trademark Examination Manual—one of the most important regulatory pieces on trademarks for brand owners and professionals in China and globally. The event, held in Beijing with INTA’s leadership joining remotely, reaffirms the Association’s thought leadership on major issues in early-stage engagement with key policy decision makers.

INTA CEO Etienne Sanz de Acedo opened the event, describing the Association’s global objectives and extending an invitation to CNIPA authorities to participate in this year’s Annual Meeting Virtual+, taking place from November 15 to November 19.

In her remarks, 2021 INTA President Tiki Dare emphasized that improvements to China’s trademark examination guidelines are a major policy priority for the Association this year. “At over 7 million trademark filings a year, CNIPA receives more applications than any other IP office around the globe by several multiples,” she said. “That makes CNIPA’s examination procedures of tremendous importance to INTA’s brand owner members.”

Liang Yu, director of the CNIPA Treaty and Law Department, noted, “INTA’s feedback is greatly appreciated and will be studied carefully as the draft manual progresses in the drafting process. Today’s in-person sharing is the first with a global IP association on this matter.”

The three-hour policy dialogue covered several pressing policy issues that appear in the draft manual, including specific policies related to determination of bad-faith applications, tests for similarity, treatment of well-known marks, and provisions relating to geographic indications (GIs), nontraditional marks, and Madrid International Registration.

CNIPA officials present at the policy dialogue further clarified the background of the overhaul to the draft manual, detailing the main areas of change that may affect the daily practice of trademark prosecution and enforcement actions.

Amanda Yang (Rouse, China), chair of INTA’s Trademark Office Practices Committee, China Subcommittee, called the draft manual “a tremendous improvement,” and noted that the Association has suggested ways to help further improve on the first round of consultations.

In its submission to the draft consultation, INTA stated that it has consolidated the inputs of all relevant advocacy committees to press for a stronger and more effective trademark system in China on behalf of global brand owners and intellectual property practitioners. The policy submission states: “We applaud the efforts to curb the malicious trademark filings by taking more concrete actions in the ex-officio examination, to protect other prior legitimate rights and interests in the draft manual. We appreciate the section on GIs has been significantly improved, is clear and comprehensive, and follows established international practice regarding GIs. Meanwhile, we expect more clarification and enforceable provisions in the current draft on the formality examination, the regulation of bad-faith trademark applications without intent to use, and increased protection of nontraditional trademarks and famous and well-known trademarks.”

In the past year, INTA has provided 15 written comments to authorities in China on draft legislation and regulation, including on the draft manual.

INTA’s China Representative Office, based in Beijing, represents the Association’s members in China. Working in collaboration with staff at INTA’s headquarters in New York City, New York, USA, the China Representative Office leads the Association’s policy, membership, marketing, and communications initiatives in this jurisdiction. To learn more about INTA’s activities in China, please contact INTA China Representative Monica Su.       

Although every effort has been made to verify the accuracy of this article, readers are urged to check independently on matters of specific concern or interest. 

© 2021 International Trademark Association