How to protect trademarks on e-commerce platforms in China



Half of the electronic transactions in the world are made from the well-known Chinese e-commerce platforms such as T-Mall, Alibaba, and AliExpress. According to the latest Alibaba Group data, American companies sold goods on Bachelors’ day or Double 11 (11, November), the total value of which exceeded 5.4 billion dollars. American companies should thank T-Mall for their success as T-Mall is actively promoting foreign brands at T-Mall Global.

Before running an official store on the aforementioned Chinese e-commerce platforms, experts highly recommend choosing the right and effective strategy for trademark protection.

Ways of seeking trademark protection in China

The representative from “T-Mall Global” highlights there are two different requirements to enter the Chinese market and seek trademark protection. Let’s consider both of them.

1) It is allowed to enter the Chinese market with foreign trademark registration. However, the representative from “T-Mall Global” says, that this isn’t a good option as you’ll face the following problems:

  • the trademarks that aren’t registered in Mainland China, won’t be able to seek IP protection in China because of the principles of regional protection of trademarks.
  • it’ll be impossible to proceed with law enforcement actions if you find that somebody produces or exports your products to China. To stop all these actions, you should have your trademarks registered in China.

That’s why the T-Mall policy warns businesspeople that "sellers should apply for Chinese trademark as far in advance as possible".

2) Before entering the Chinese market, register your trademarks in China. In this case, you won’t have any problems with IP protection and law enforcement actions in China. Your trademarks will be protected under the Chinese Trademark Law.

National trademark registration vs. the Madrid System

To avoid the aforementioned problems one of the best options is to register your trademark in China, not via the Madrid system. When you register the trademark via the Madrid System, applicants aren't allowed to choose specific subclasses, where they are seeking IP protection. Although the registration process via the Madrid system is much quicker and has a competitive price compared to registration in China, the Chinese registration rules are much stricter. Furthermore, as statistics show, the number of trademark registrations in China has significantly risen since 2010. Hence, if you run a business in China, take the opportunity to register your trademarks in China then register them in other jurisdictions, where the Chinese language isn't an official language of a region.

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