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New Regulations Will Target Abnormal Trademark Filings

In order to improve the nation's business environment and maintain the trademark management order, the China National Intellectual Property Administration will roll out a new set of regulations on trademark filings to curb the "applications out of malice".


The regulations draft has been publicized on the CNIPA website, soliciting suggestions and opinions from the public until March 14.


The move reflects a shift in policymakers' focus from intellectual property quantity to quality, said Li Shunde, a senior IP researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.


Comprised of eight articles, the new regulations target "abnormal applications", such as trademark squatting, imitating established brands and filings with no intentions for actual use in industry or business.


The regulations, once they take effect, will also come as a severe blow to trademark speculators, who apply for and stock trademarks for trade rather than industrial or business use.


Organizations and individuals involved in the abnormal applications will be publicized on the CNIPA website and China Intellectual Property News, a Beijing-based newspaper, and face other punishments administered by related authorities, according to the draft.


They will also be blacklisted and exposed via a national credit information publicity system.


Trademarks achieved by this means will be declared void, the draft says.


"The long-awaited regulations draft came as no surprise," Li said. "Such regulations are necessary, especially amid continuous growth in IP filings in China."


The number of trademark applications from the country has topped the world for years, according to statistics from the World Intellectual Property Organization.


Data from the CNIPA show that the inventory of valid domestic trademarks had surpassed 18 million by the end of 2018.


China has improved in IP filings and protection by leaps and bounds, yet insufficient enforcement has come under fire and the discordance between quantity and quality has yet to be tackled, Li said.


Growing awareness of the issues and the reconfiguration of IP administrative organs contributed to the rollout of the draft, he added.


"The draft does not merely address the chronic problem of abnormal applications but provides an approach to balancing the quantity and quality, " he noted. "It is just a start."

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