We’ll get straight to the point: are you thinking about importing products from China, but don’t plan on registering your furniture hardware brand in China? Hurry! Register it ASAP! You could be the victim of a terrible hack, and it could even happen today. Want to know why we are telling you this and how to fix it? Keep reading!
Now that we’ve given you that warning, we’ll explain in detail why we are sounding the alarm like this. We are trying to protect you from:
A legal, but unethical, trademark practice in China that is expanding very quickly.
It consists of registering brands with the potential to manufacture in China (textiles, metallurgy, technology). Then, when the brand comes to China to do business, they are told that they can’t because their brand is registered to another business owner.
What is the point of hacking trademark registrations in China?
The point is obvious: for money. They might:
- Demand a ransom ($) in order to return it to the true owners at the risk of losing it completely, because whoever registered it first is using it and making money.
- Keep the trademark, because that brand, its identity, philosophy and products are VERY profitable, and they will exploit them for personal gain.
Unfortunately, this is not something “unusual” in China. In fact, we know of several cases firsthand. In our industry, these opportunists are usually agents or distributors who take advantage of industry fairs to find brands that interest them. After researching them, if they discover that the brand has not yet been registered, they do it first.
Registering your furniture hardware brand in China : What is preventive filing? Why should I start the process as soon as possible?
It’s important to know that “First to File” applies in China when it comes to trademark registration. So, the first one to register will get priority over anyone else.
Because of this, preventive filing takes on particular importance.
Here’s what we mean…
Do you think there is a chance, even a small one, that importing furniture hardware from China could improve your business in the future? If the answer is not a clear and resounding NO, we recommend registering your furniture hardware brand in China as soon as you can!
Although the process isn’t expensive (approximately $200), it is slow. If everything goes well and no objections are raised, the filing takes from 12 to 18 months. Furthermore, during that entire process, the brand is not protected. On the other hand, as long as you pay the renewal fees every 10 years, the protection of your brand is indefinite.
How to register your furniture hardware brand in China?
There are two methods for filing: national and international.
You must submit the application to the China Trade Mark Office (CTMO). This entity is in charge of registration and administration of trademarks and is a dependent of the State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC).
In order to file, you must have a registered address in China. If you don’t have one, you can use local agents. IBMH accompanies and guides clients through everything that needs to be done in this process:
- Completing the application form
- Passing the formal exam
- Passing the substantive exam
- Publishing the preliminary filing in an official gazette
- Finalizing the paperwork for the registration
Thanks to China’s signing of the Madrid Protocol, you can apply for registration with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). With this filing, you can apply for trademark protection in several countries.
The process is similar to the national one, and even somewhat easier. However, the timeline for acceptance or rejection is similar, about 18 months.
Also, the fees are more expensive, and you’ll have to add on the costs of the lawyers that you will most likely need in order to ensure the filing is completed and submitted correctly.
You khow now the importance of registering your furniture hardware brand in China. As a precaution (which will prevent major headaches), at IBMH, we recommend that, before you even set foot on Chinese soil, you:
- Go through all the necessary procedures to register your furniture hardware brand in China as soon as possible and with no issues.
- Or, if you are already working with us and wish to file, you can simply request it via the HelpDesk in our proprietary PMP software (Procurement Management Platform).
Best of luck with your imports!