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Intellectual Property Management & Trademark Registration

There is no doubt that the continuously innovation, invention and creation is always the key to keep you advanced in modern market competition. Those intangible assets will become your unique selling points to make you outstand from you competitors. No matter where you are running your business and operating, you should value the protection of your intellectual property at all times!

What is intellectual property?

Intellectual property (IP) is a category of property that includes intangible creations of the human intellect, including patents, copyright, industrial design rights, trademarks, plant variety rights, trade dress, geographical indications, and in some jurisdictions trade secrets.

Well-protected IP can truly bring you remarkable benefits: the security of your ability to operate, competitive advantages against competitors, customer’s loyalty and brand awareness, income generation, guaranteed capital raising…

In this page, we will mainly focus on the most common type of IP when doing business in China, the trademarks, which is definitely worth your consideration. If you want to know about other types of IP, you are also welcome to book a meeting with our experts and secure your IP today!

Ready to Start Registering Trademarks in China Now?


We can help you! Click the button below to arrange a free consultation to talk through your trademark registration needs:

Trademarks – Why Are They Important?

A trademark is a distinctive sign that identifies a commodity, service, or related specific individual or enterprise. It can be in the form of graphics or text, or it can be represented by sound, smell or three-dimensional images. 

The trademark registration brings exclusive right to the owner against others from using the trademark and gives the right to permit others to use the trademark for remuneration. Generally speaking, a trademark has the following three functions:

  • Indicate the source or ownership;
  • Guarantee that the goods or services are of an equivalent level of quality or character;
  • For advertising purposes;


Difference between TM (™) and R (®) symbol in trademark

What does the TM (™) symbol mean?

A TM (™) sign indicates that the trademark is unregistered and is often used for advertisement or branding purposes when they have submitted the trademark application. Companies will use the symbol after text, images, or other elements they created for recognition when they are not formally register with the Trademark Office in China.

What does the R (®) symbol mean?

The R (®) symbol indicates that is has been formally and fully registered and will enjoy legal protection by the laws of the P.R.C. The trademark registration will be valid for ten years and extension is possible by renewal application. Any unauthorized using from the owner of the trademark with R (®) symbol will lead to legal punishment.


How to Register a Trademark in China?

Of course you can register the trademark yourself. However, this is not recommended because it can be extremely time-consuming, considering that you may be familiar with the Chinese Trademark Regulations and process. Partnering with trademark registration agency, just like Hongda, can be the optimal choice for you to save you both money and time.

In general, the period of trademark application and registration can last about one year, or even more. The typical application procedure of a trademark is as follows:


Step 1: Conduct a Comprehensive Trademark Search

Not all trademarks can be registered. Your trademark has to be originally designed and created by you to be approved and registered. Our IP specialists will help you conduct a comprehensive trademark search from the official database to see whether there are any potential conflicts and prevent you from wasting time and money. This search will take about one working day and you will receive a detailed report as well as our advice on how to avoid any trouble registering your trademark and maximize the success rate of application.


Step 2: Finalized Your Design and Confirm the Trademark

A trademark can be the combination of Chinese characters, English characters, numbers, images, 3D visuals, colors etc. You will need to finalize the combination of the elements you want to have in your trademark. Once the combined trademark is approved, you will not be allowed to use the elements separately.


Step 3: Formal Examination

After submitting the trademark application with materials of the registration subjects, the trademark office will conduct the preliminary review of the submitted materials. This review will examine whether the materials are complete, whether the signatures and seals are effective, whether the trademark pattern is clear and whether the trademark specifications meet the requirements. After formal examination, the Trademark Office will issue a notice of the examination results.


Step 4: Substantive Examination

The substantive examination is a series of activities such as checking whether the trademark complies with the relevant provisions of the "Trademark Law" by the Trademark Office, conducting data retrieval, analysis and comparison, investigation and research, and preliminary approval.

If the Trademark Office believes that the content of the trademark needs to be further modified, it will issue an examination opinion and you should reply within a time limit, and the Trademark Office will continue to review your application.


Step 5: Trademark Publication

After the examination of the trademark, the Trademark Office will make an announcement and publication of the trademark to be approved. Within three months from the announcement, anyone who raises objection about the trademark should submit materials in the given period, or the trademark certificate will be issued after the publication.


Step 6: Trademark Approval

After the announcement and publication period, the Trademark Office will approve the trademark registration, and issue a trademark registration certificate.


Materials for Chinese Trademark application

To apply for trademark protection, either an individual or a company can be the application subject. The advantages and disadvantages are as follows:

Advantage Higher stability of the applicant information (basic personal information such as your name is unless likely to be changed).

More suitable for branding and marketing and is easier to get customer’s recognition as it is directly linked to your company.

Easier to present evidence in case of commercial disputes.

Disadvantages More difficult to present evidence due to the lack of operation records. The company information, such as the registration address and company name, may change during operation. The registration information of trademark needs to be changed at the same time.


In general, trademarks registered by company are ideal for marketing, branding, and advertising. And your company will enjoy market value growth as the trademark gains popularity.

Individual application, on the other hand, is more flexible, compared to corporate registration. Once the trademark is approved, the trademark can still be used by the company with the authorization from the trademark owner.


Materials for individual application:

  • Application form;
  • Applicant’s ID (ID card or passport);
  • Sample of trademark;
  • Letter of attorney (if you work with a trademark agency);


Materials for corporate application:

  • Application form;
  • Copy of company’s business license;
  • Sample of trademark;
  • Letter of attorney (if you work with a trademark agency);


International Trademark Protection – The Madrid System and WIPO

The Madrid International Registration of Trademarks refers to the registration of trademarks among the member states of the Madrid Union in accordance with the provisions of the ‘Madrid Agreement on the International Registration of Marks’, managed by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). Trademark applicants can submit applications through the trademark authorities of their countries to extend the protection of trademarks registered and/or under application to the contracting parties. Trademark applicants only need to submit one application and pay one set of fees to apply for protection in up to 130 countries.

If you want to have your trademark protected not only in China but also in over 100 countries around the globe, the Madrid System trademark application is an ideal choice for you. To get more information, please book a meeting with Hongda’s IP specialists to talk about your requirements in detail and let us help you with your application!

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Sound United

Jack Peng
Sound United Vice President > Asia Pacific

Sound United is the leading designer and manufacturer of consumer audio products in the US. Sound United has been using Hongda since 2013. Moving one’s operation to China is not a small task, But Hongda’s expert services helped us set up a company and deal with tax issues so we could get on with growing our business in no time at all, and that’s why we continue to use them today.


Business service Guidance

Hongda Business Services helps foreign businesses looking to establish in the PRD (Pearl River Delta, Guangdong), Shanghai and Hong Kong take advantage of everything that China has to offer. We typically work with companies in Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Zhuhai, Zhongshan, Shanghai, and Hong Kong.


Should I submit the trademark sample in B&W or in colors?

If the trademark sample is submitted in B&W, you can change the colors after successful registration of trademark. If the trademark sample is in colors, you will only use the exact combination of colors. The images with changed colors will not be protected.

Can I transfer my trademark to someone else?

Yes. You can transfer your trademark to others, whether your trademark has been approved or is still in application.

Where can I search the trademarks in China?

How long does it take to get my trademark registered?

The application takes several steps, including formal examination, substantive examination, and publication period, and it will take about 12 months from the beginning.

What should I do if my own trademark has been registered by others?

You should report immediately to the Trademark Office within the three-month publication period and provide strong evidence of the origin of creation.

Can I apply for an international trademark protection?

The Madrid System is a good idea to apply for trademark protection in various countries, but it can only cover about 130 member countries at this stage. In addition, you will need to make payments to the trademark administrations of the countries in which you want to have legal protection of your trademark.

Can Hongda help me with deal with any commercial disputes when using my trademark?

Of course. With the assistance of Hongda’s professional lawyers, you don’t need to worry about any legal issues related to your trademark.

What other types of IP can Hongda help me with?

Besides trademarks, we can help you with the application of patents and copyrights. Don’t hesitate and let us know your requirements!


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