U.S. and European companies that manufacture in China are typically concerned about their Chinese factory or some local competitor stealing their design yet are far too relaxed about protecting their trademarks.
Blockchain technologies are inherently international, and China has had its share of news lately. I have spoken on China and web3 from both business and national security perspectives. These new technologies present challenges and opportunities both inside and outside China. This post focuses on the for-profit blockchain developments and opportunities in China.
The CCP is incredibly powerful and ruthless. Most of you already know this. If the CCP wants your IP, it will use its power and ruthlessness to get it. How does it do thatwhen you are not even located in China or you are always extremely careful about what you reveal of your IP in China? Very simple. It leans on your employees to force them to turn over your IP.
Where there is no Chinese patent protection, it is perfectly legal for an unrelated Chinese factory to knock-off the product. Only some form of patent can stop the knock-off. That is, absent patent protection, a knock-off does not constitute infringement. So where no invention patent applies, a design patent is a powerful tool. If the design is registered as a patent, the owner of the patent can prevent any other factory in China from making a product using that design. The patent owner can also register with customs, preventing the export of the knock-off product.
Back in the day, China strictly adhered to the first-to-file principle when it came to trademarks, meaning that whoever won the race to the registrar got the trademark, without regard to prior use of same. In the intervening years, however, China has moved in a more equitable direction, particularly in instances where the first filer is acting in bad faith.
When applying to register trademarks in China, it is not uncommon for brands to have their applications denied because of a similar trademark that has a prior right. This prior right may be an existing registration, or a pending application to register that was filed at an earlier date than yours. What to do if your brand finds itself in that situation?