Why Trademark Registration in China Should Be a Priority for Your Company


In the intricate world of global business, protecting your company’s intellectual property (IP) is paramount. A critical aspect of this protection involves trademark registration. This article will focus on why registering your company’s trademark in China should be a top priority in your IP strategy. The Chinese market, with its enormous consumer base and vast potential for growth, provides significant opportunities for businesses worldwide. However, it’s essential to understand the unique intricacies of its legal system to safeguard your assets effectively.


Legal Protection Against Unlawful Usage

One of the primary reasons to register your company’s trademark in China is to secure legal protection against unlawful usage by rivals. If your trademark isn’t registered, you may find your logo, company name, or other integral symbols of your business being used without your permission. This misappropriation can be severely detrimental to your business, leading to financial losses and reputational damage.


First-To-File System

China operates on a ‘first-to-file’ system. This means that regardless of which company used a particular trademark first, the firm that registers it first in China has exclusive rights to use it within the country. Hence, even if your company has been using a trademark internationally for years, another company could potentially register it first in China and legally claim it as its own. Such scenarios can lead to costly and time-consuming legal battles.


Legal Action Against Infringers

Having a registered trademark in China empowers international corporations to pursue legal action against infringers actively. It grants you the legal footing to seek penalties for lost income or reputational damage caused by unauthorized use of your trademark. Without registration, your ability to seek legal redress against such infringements would be severely compromised.


Compliance with Local Laws and Regulations

Trademark registration in China also ensures that your company remains compliant with local laws and regulations. Given China’s unique legal landscape, being on the right side of the law can save your business from potentially expensive legal challenges, unexpected costs, and preventable disruptions to your operations.


Brand Identity and Recognition

A registered trademark allows your company to create and preserve its brand identity in the Chinese market. In a country with over a billion potential consumers, having a legally recognized brand identity is vital for standing out in the marketplace. A strong brand can increase customer recognition, build trust, and enhance customer loyalty, all of which contribute to your business’s success in the long term.


Safeguarding Investments

Registering your trademark in China safeguards your company’s investment in the country. With a registered trademark, you’re not only securing your intellectual property but also protecting your reputation, your customer relationships, and, ultimately, your bottom line.


The Advantages of Direct Trademark Application in China VS. International Trademark Applications

Despite the complexity of the trademark registration process, applying directly in China offers several substantial advantages that can streamline the process and provide more comprehensive protection.

Better Protection

When you apply for a trademark directly in China, you’re engaging directly with the Chinese National Intellectual Property Administration (CNIPA). This engagement can facilitate better protection as the CNIPA is better positioned to enforce and uphold your rights within the country.

Furthermore, China uses a unique subclass system in its trademark registration process. Under this system, each class of goods or services is further divided into several subclasses. If a company registers a trademark for a particular class, it’s not automatically protected under all the subclasses of that class. The direct application allows companies to have a better understanding of these subclasses and make an informed decision about where their products or services fit best, leading to more comprehensive protection.

International trademark protection for trademarks in China gives you fewer protected subclasses: goods and services. They are also more inaccurate because of translation problems and a lack of communication between those who protect the trademark and those who do the actual protection in China as a part of the international trademark application.

Faster Processing

While international trademark applications must go through the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and then be transferred to individual countries (which can take a long time), direct applications in China is processed faster. This is because you’re dealing directly with the CNIPA, eliminating the need for intermediaries and reducing administrative backlogs that could delay your application.

Navigating the Subclass System

As mentioned earlier, China operates a unique subclass system, which differs from other countries. When applying directly, businesses can navigate this system more effectively, ensuring they get the most comprehensive protection for their trademark. This means if you apply under the right subclasses, even similar goods or services under the same main class cannot infringe upon your trademark, providing an added layer of security for your intellectual property.

Applying directly for a trademark in China offers better protection, quicker processing, and a more effective way to navigate the country’s unique subclass system. Therefore, despite the complexity, companies looking to protect their brand in China should consider the direct application process. The key to successfully navigating this process often lies in partnering with legal advisors that are experts in Chinese trademark law, which can help ensure the protection of your company’s valuable assets.



In conclusion, registering your trademark in China provides your company with legal protection, helps to maintain compliance with local laws, strengthens your brand identity, and preserves your investment. While you should get help in the process of applying for trademarks directly in China, the potential benefits of protecting yourself in China far outweigh the costs. If your company is looking to enter or expand within the Chinese market, prioritizing trademark registration should be an essential part of your business strategy.


Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why is trademark registration in China important?

Trademark registration in China provides your company with legal protection against unlawful usage by rivals. It ensures you are in compliance with local laws and regulations, allows you to take legal action against infringers, and strengthens your brand identity in the Chinese market.

2. How does the first-to-file system work in China?

China operates on a ‘first-to-file’ system for trademarks. This means the first company to register a trademark in China receives exclusive rights to use it within the country, regardless of its usage elsewhere in the world.

3. Can I take legal action against someone who uses my trademark without my permission in China?

Yes, but only if your trademark is registered in China. A registered trademark allows you to take legal action against infringers and seek penalties for lost income or reputational damage.

4. How does registering a trademark in China help my brand identity?

A registered trademark can help you establish and protect your brand identity in the Chinese market. This leads to increased brand recognition, customer trust, and loyalty, which are crucial for business success.

5. How does a trademark registration safeguard my investment in China?

A registered trademark in China secures your intellectual property, protects your brand reputation, and strengthens customer relationships. These factors contribute significantly to preserving your company’s investments in the country.

6. Is my international trademark automatically recognized in China?

No, China has a ‘first-to-file’ system and does not recognize international trademarks unless they are registered within the country. This means you need to register your trademark in China even if it is already registered in other countries.



Contact us if you need legal help in China, like drafting contracts that follow Chinese law, background investigation of Chinese companies, protecting patents, trademarks, and verification of contracts to the law in China, etc.

If you require our assistance or have further questions about our services, please do not hesitate to contact our Customer Relationship Manager, Jan Erik Christensen, at janerik@ncbhub.com. We look forward to hearing from you and helping your business succeed in China.



Contact us if you need help with drafting of contracts that follows Chinese laws and are enforceable in China, background investigation of Chinese companies, protecting patents, trademarks, verification of contracts to the law in China, or help with other legal challenges that you have in China.

If you require our assistance or have further questions about our services, please do not hesitate to contact our Customer Relationship Managers Jan Erik Christensen, at janerik@ncbhub.com . We look forward to hearing from you and helping your business succeed in China.

This article is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace professional legal counsel. The information contained herein does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Reading this article does not establish an attorney-client relationship between the reader and the author or the author’s organization. Our website aim to provide general information for educational and communication purposes.