Recommendations for Protecting Your Intellectual Property Rights in China

In the area of intellectual property rights (IPR), failure to register trademarks and/or patents is one of the principal difficulties that foreign companies encounter in the Chinese market. Some companies mistakenly believe that registration in their home country protects them in China; others may underestimate the risk of IP abuse; some believe that registration is expensive, time consuming and not worth the effort; for others still, business or exports may be expanding so rapidly that they expose themselves by postponing registration.

Companies can take important steps to protect their IP. The Canadian Embassy recommends that every prospective company’s China business plan include a strategy to protect IP. For those companies already operating in the Chinese market, it is never too late to review your IP to ensure that your strategies are keeping up with your innovations and market expansion.

First, do consult a law firm familiar with Chinese intellectual property law. The law firm will help you identify those elements of your IP that you should protect and advise you on the process to apply for registration.

Second, do register your intellectual property rights in China. Patents and trademarks registered in Canada or other countries are not usually protected in China. China’s trademark and patent regimes operate on a ‘first-to-file’ registration system, rather than a ‘first-to-use’ or ‘first-to-invent’ basis. Companies who do not register their IP risk having their inventions registered by others operating in bad faith. While recourse mechanisms do exist to address this type of situation, objection and appeal processes can take years to wind their way through the system at considerable expense and trouble to Canadian companies. The safest action is to register your IP as soon as possible. Companies are also advised to register the Chinese language versions of their trademarks.

Third, do carry out due diligence on your partners, agents and/or distributors. Unfortunately, associates or former employees are a frequent source of IPR violations. Make sure that you have clear contractual protection for all aspects of IP, including clauses on your ownership rights and use limitations on your partner, distributor, licensee or employees. When hiring employees, it is important to have them sign an agreement that contains clauses on confidentiality, non-concurrence and the use and ownership of IP.

Fourth, do include clear contractual protection for all IP. Contractual problems are also a frequent source of IPR infringements. Ensure that you have your own legal counsel (do not rely on the legal advice from your Chinese partner) before you enter into an agreement and be prudent in conducting negotiations. Remember that the best contracts are those that do not have to be enforced.

Patent Registration

China and Canada are both signatories to the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT). Therefore, when you apply for a patent in Canada, you have the option to submit an application for a Chinese patent. In order to register patents in China in this way, companies must initiate the patent process for China within 30 months of the priority date. You may apply for a Chinese patent either within Canada, via the Canadian Patent Office under the Patent Co-operation Treaty (PCT), or directly to the patent office in China. You can find more information on the PCT by contacting the Canadian Intellectual Property Office or by visiting the website of the World Intellectual Property Office or the Chinese Intellectual Property Office.

Note that if the patent has already been granted in Canada, it may preclude you from obtaining one in China since your invention will not be considered "new and innovative" in China, unless you apply within a defined period. This period is one year for patents and utility models, and six months for industrial designs of your first application.

Trademark Registration

Companies wishing to register trademarks in China must go through the Trademark Office of the State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC). Those with no habitual residence in China must appoint a patent or trademark agency designated by the State Council to act as an agent. Foreign companies with a presence in China may file directly.

China’s trademark registration process is a "First-to-File" system. This means that the first party to file for the registration of a particular trademark will be granted the rights of that trademark. Note that failure to use a registered mark for three consecutive years in China means it will be subject to cancellation.

In China, after a trademark license contract is concluded, the licensor shall, within three months, submit a copy of the contract to the Trademark Office (TMO). The licensee shall submit another copy of the contract to the SAIC at the county level of his location for reference. In addition, in order to be able to record a license contract, TMO requires that certain elements in the contract. For example, the licensor should supervise the quality of the licensed goods manufactured by the licensee; the licensee should indicate its name and address on the licensed goods, etc.

For more information, please visit the China Trademark Office website.

Law Firms

Chinese and Foreign Law Firms

Baker & McKenzie
Suite 3401, China World Tower 2
1 Jianguomenwai Dajie
Beijing 100004, China
Tel.: (86 10) 6535 3800
Fax: (86 10) 6505 2309
Contact: Stanley Jia
Areas: Commercial, Telecommunication, Information Technology, Infrastructure, Financial Services, Mining, Joint Ventures, Mergers & Acquisitions

ChoiTechAndLaw Professional Corporation
Blackwood Centre
555 Legget Drive, Tower A, Suite 304
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K2K 2X3
Tel.: (001) 613 777 1088
Fax: (001) 613 777 1087
Contact: Amelia Choi
Areas: Intellectual Property (IP) Portfolio Management & Strategic IP Counselling; Patent, Trademark, Industrial Design, and Copyright Registration & Prosecution; Licensing, Agreements, and IP Transactions; Technology Transfer; Domain Name Registration; Internet / Software / Information and Communications Technologies; Cleantech; Medical Devices; IP Litigation and Enforcement; and other IP-Related Services

Beijing King & Bond Law Firm
Room 2003, Tower A CITIC Building,
No. 19 Jianguomenwai Street,
Chaoyang District,
Beijing 100004, China
Tel.: (86 10) 6515 0315 / 6592 6142
Fax: (86 10) 6515 0316
Contact: Meng Li
Areas: M&A in China and abroad, Equity issuance and listing, International trade and investment, International financing, Transnational IP protection, Debt recovery

Beijing Tianbo
Sunny Plaza, FL11/E, North Building 3
10 Xiaoying Rd.
Chaoyang District
Beijing 100101, China
Tel.: (86 10) 8464 8305
Fax: (86 10) 8464 9785
Contact: Jenny Zhang
Areas: Project Financing, Security, License Services, Franchise, Intellectual Property, Divorce, Criminal Defense, Inheritance, Personal Injury, Labor Dispute, Sports & Entertainment

Beijing Tongda
Suite 519, Tian An Building, Nan He Yan
Beijing 10006, China
Tel.: (86 10) 6513 2136/85/86/35
Fax: (86 10) 6513 2135
Areas: Finance, Banking, Securities Offerings, Direct Investment, International Trading, Commercial Negotiations, Arbitration and Litigation

Beijing Zhong Jing Law Firm
Suite 103, Building A, Beijing Tiptop International
Wanliuzhonglu, Haidian District
Beijing 100089, China
Tel.: (86 10) 8257-1636
Fax: (86 10) 8257-1636 ex 658
Contact: Mr. Luo Hong
Areas: Corporate Law, Investment and Financing, Energy and Environmental Law, Technology, Patent and Copyright, Debt Recovery and Enforcement of Arbitration and Court Awards, International Trade Services, Criminal Law, and Real Estate.

Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP
7 Dong Sanhuan Zhonglu, Suite 901, Office Tower A
Beijing Fortune Plaza
Chaoyang District
Beijing 100020, China
Tel.: (86 10) 6530 9010
Fax: (86 10) 6530 9008
Areas: Foreign Investment, International Trading, Arbitration and Litigation, Mergers and Acquisitions

Brown & Wood LLP
Suite 3527, One China World Tower
1 Jianguomenwai Avenue
Beijing, 100004, China
Tel.: (86 10) 6505 5359
Fax: (86 10) 6505 5360
Contact: Henry Ding
Areas: Corporate Finance, International Capital Markets, WTO and International Trade Regulation

DS Avocats
Union Plaza, Office 1106A
20 Chaoyang Menwai Dajie
Chaoyang District
Beijing, 100020 China
Tel.: (86 10) 6588 5758
Fax: (86 10) 6588 0427
Contact: Claude Le Gaonach-Bret
Areas: Foreign Investment, Contract, Intellectual Property, Tax, Labor, Arbitration and Commercial Litigation

Foreign Enterprise Service Corporation
14, Chaoyangmennan Dajie
Chaoyang District
Beijing 100020, China
Tel.: (86 10) 8561 8888 - 31031
Fax: (86 10) 8561 3001
Contact: Mr. Cao Xu
Areas: Labor Law, Labor Dispute

Gide Loyrette Nouel
Suite 350, Jing Guang Centre
Hu Jia Lou
Chaoyang District
Beijing, 100020, China
Tel.: (86 10) 6597 4511
Fax: (86 10) 6597 4551
Contact: Yan Lan
Areas: Foreign Investment, Taxation, Labor Law, Telecommunications, E-Commerce, WTO, Arbitration, Mergers and Acquisitions

Jun He Law Offices
20th Floor, Huarun Plaza
Jianguomen North Avenue
Beijing, 100005 China
Tel.: (86 10) 8519 1300
Fax: (86 10) 8519 1350
Contact: Jun Gong
Areas: Foreign Investment, Banking & Financing, Corporate Securities, Mergers & Acquisitions, Labor & Employment, Real Estate & Construction, Tax, Intellectual Property & High Technology, International Trade, Commercial Arbitration and Litigation

Lang Michener LLP
Brookfield Place
181 Bay Street, Suite 2500
P.O.Box 747
Toronto, Ontario
M5J 2T7, Canada
Tel.: (001) 416 307 4168
Fax: (001) 416 304 3871

1500 Royal Centre P.O. Box 11117
1055 West Georgia Street
Vancouver, British Columbia
V6E 4N7
Tel.: (001) 604 689 9111
Fax: (001) 604 685 7084
Contact: Cyndee Todgham Cherniak, Counsel
Areas: Intellectual Property Rights Protection, FTAs/International Trade/Import/Export Energy/Natural/Resources/Mining, Listing on TSX, Capital Markets, Mergers & Acquisitions, Due Diligence, Competition Law, Anti-monopoly, Export Controls, Anti-dumping, Countervailing Duty Trade Remedies, Labour and Employment Laws, Litigation, Data Protection/Privacy.

Lehman, Lee & Xu
10-2 Liangmaqiao Diplomatic Compound
No.22 Dongfang East Road
Chaoyang District
Beijing, 100600, China
Tel.: (86 10) 8532 1919
Fax: (86 10) 8532 1999
Contact: Edward E. Lehman
Areas: Pharmaceutical Regulation, Health Care, Banking, Administrative, Civil, Corporate, Employee Benefits, Debt Recovery, Workouts, Intellectual Property, International Trade

L. KaiLawOffices
Building K, Suite 9-318, Hui Yuan Apartment
AsianGames Village
Chaoyang District
Beijing, 100101, China
Tel.: (86 10) 6499 2318
Fax: (86 10) 6499 2405
Contact: Harvey Lee
Areas: Economic, Commercial, Civil, Investment, Corporate, Intellectual Property

Level 2, Tower C2 Towers Oriental Plaza No.1,
East Chang An Avenue
Dongcheng District
Beijing, 100738 China
Tel.: (86 10) 8518 4000
Fax: (86 10) 8518 1656
Contact: Andrew McGinty
Areas: Commercial Law, Commercial Real Estate, Financial Services, Mergers and Acquisitions, Technology Contracts and Outsourcing, Telecoms

22nd Floor, Beijing Kerry Centre
1 Guang Hua Road
Chaoyang District
Beijing 100020, China
Tel.: (86 10) 8595 5600
Fax: (86 10) 8595 5700
Areas: Taxes, Structures Finance, Employment Law, Mergers & Acquisitions, Banking, Private Equity, Investment Funds and Venture Capital, Real Estate Development.

Squire, Sanders & Dempsey LLP
25th Floor, North Tower, Suite 2501 Beijing Kerry Centre
1 Guanghua Road
Chaoyang District
Beijing, 100020, China
Tel.: (86 10) 8529 6998
Fax: (86 10) 8529 8088
Areas: Direct Foreign Investment, Corporate Structuring, Bank Financing, Labor and Human Resource Management, Real Estate Leasing and Procurement, Offshore and Onshore Tax Planning, Foreign Exchange Control Clearances, Arbitration and Litigation Enforcement, Cross-Border Investments, Environmental Copyrights

Vovan & Associés
ShenKu Yard, Ritan Park
Chaoyang District
Beijing, 100020, China
Tel.: (86 10) 8562 6284/8561 7842
Fax: (86 10) 8561 7840
Areas: Legal Audit, Due Diligence, Tax Planning, Project Financing & Foreign Exchange, Contractual, Social, Construction, Intellectual and Industrial Property, Liquidation and Dissolution, International Arbitration

Trademark and Patent Agents

Beijing Golden Bridge IP Agency Co., Ltd.
A1008, Horizon International Tower
No.6 Zhichun Road
Haidian District
Beijing 100088, China
Tel.: (86 10) 8280 0716
Fax: (86 10) 8280 0500
Note: Patent Registration, Patent Search, Trademark Monitoring, Copyright Protection, Copyright Licensing

Beijing Leader Patent Agency Co., Ltd.
No.902, Building A
Beichen Xilu, 69 Junfeng Huating
Chaoyang District
Beijing 100029, China
Tel.: (86 10) 5877 3108
Fax: (86 10) 5877 3107
Note: Patent Search and Monitoring, Copyright Search and Registration

Beijing Sanyou Intellectual Property Agency Ltd.
16F. Block A, Corporate Square
No. 35 Jinrong Street
Beijing 100032, China
Tel.: (86 10) 8809 1921
Fax: (86 10) 8809 1920
Note: Patent Registration, Patent Search and Consulting, Trademark Registration

Boss & Young Patent & Trademark Attorneys
5th Floor, Tower A, Building No.1, International Center
Jia 3 Yongandongli Jianguomenwai Ave.
Chaoyang District
Beijing 100022, China
Tel.: (86 10) 5879 3300
Fax: (8610) 5879 3311
Note: Patent Prosecution, Patent Analysis, Legal Opinions on Patent Rights, Trademark Consulting, Trademark Protection, Copyright Registration, Copyright Licensing

CCPIT Patent & Trademark Law Office
10/F, Ocean Plaza
158 Fuxingmennei Street
Beijing 100031, China
Tel.: (86 10) 6641 2345
Fax: (86 10) 6641 5678
Note: Patent Consulting, Copyright Consulting, Trademark Consulting

China Science Patent & Trademark Agent Ltd.
25F, Building B. Qinghua Tongfang Hi-Tech Plaza
No.1 Wangzhuang Road
Hiadian District
Beijing 100083, China
Tel.: (86 10) 8237 8686
Fax: (86 10) 8237 8400
Note: Patent Application, Licensing, Trademark Registration and Renewal, copyright and Software Registration

China Sinda Intellectual Property Ltd.
B 11th Floor, Focus Place
19 Financial Street
Beijing 100032, China
Tel.: (86 10) 6657 6688
Fax: (86 10) 6657 8088
Note: Patent Prosecution, Patent Counselling, Trademark Prosecution and Protection, Copyright Counselling, Domain Name Registration Counselling

Dragon International Patent Office
10th Floor, Maples International Center
No.32 Xizhimen North Street
Haidian District
Beijing 100082, China
Tel.: (86 10) 8225 2547
Fax: (86 10) 8225 0563
Note: Patent Application, Patent Counselling, Trademark Prosecution, Trademark Counselling

East IP Ltd.
Suite 1601, Tower E2, Oriental Plaza
No.1 East Chang An Ave.
Dongcheng District
Beijing 100738, China
Tel.: (86 10)8518 9318
Fax: (86 10)8518 9338
Note: Patent Search and Monitoring, Trademark Strategy Planning and Analysis, Copyright Registration, Domain Name Registration

GMK Intellectual Property Ltd.
308 & 309 Yuetan Tower
2 Yuetan North Street
Xicheng District
Beijing 100045, China
Tel.: (86 10) 6808 3081/2
Fax: (86 10) 6808 3083
Contact: Ms. Huang Xiangyang, Director and General Manager
Note: Prosecution of Patent Qpplications for Invention, Patent Search and Consultation; Patent Reexamination and Invalidation, Trademark Search, Trademark Registration, Renewal and Assignment, Trademark Watching Service, IP Administrative Litigation, IP Infringement Litigation, Services Concerning Administrative Proceedings, Copyright Registration, Customs IP Right Registration, Legal Counseling Services.

Kelong International Intellectual Property Agent Ltd.
F13-3, Tower A, Horizon International
Tower, No.6 Zhichun Road
Haidian District
Beijing 100088, China
Tel.: (86 10) 8280 0568
Fax: (86 10) 8280 0578
Note: Patent Consulting, Patent Search, Trademark Search and Monitoring, Copyright and Software Registration, Domain Name Registration

Lecome Intellectual Property Agent Ltd.
16th Floor, Tower B, INDO Mansion
No.48 - Jia Zhichun Road
Haidian District
Beijing 100098, China
Tel.:   (86 10) 5873 3366
Fax: (86 10) 5873 3399
Note: Patent Counselling, Patent Application, Copyright Protection, Software Registration, Trademark Prosecution

Unitalen Patent and Law Firm
7th Floor, Scitech Place
No.22 Jianguomenwai Ave.
Bejing 100004, China
Tel.: (86 10) 8511 5588
Fax: (86 10) 8511 0966
Note: Patent Search, Patent Monitoring, Trademark Registration, Trademark Search and Monitoring, Copyright Protection, Licensing

Wang & Associates Property Agent Ltd.
Prime Tower, Suite 408
No.22 Chaoyangmenwai Dajie
Chaoyang District
Beijing 100020, China
Tel.: (86 10) 6588 3010
Fax: (86 10) 6588 2877
Note: Patent Evaluation, Patent Application, Trademark Prosecution, Trademark Renewal, Copyright Registration, Domain Name Registration

China Science Patent & Trademark Agent Ltd.
25F, Building B. Qinghua Tongfang Hi-Tech Plaza
No.1 Wangzhuang Road
Hiadian District
Beijing 100083, China
Tel.: (86 10) 8237 8686
Fax: (86 10) 8237 8400

NTD Patent & Trademark Agency LTD
9th-11th Floor, Block A, Investment Plaza
27 Jinrongdajie, Beijing 100032, P.R.China
Tel.: (86)10-66211836
Fax: (86)10-66211845 - (86)10-66211846 - (86)10-66211847 - (86)10-66211848