Tips to Protect your Intellectual Property Rights in China

POSTED ON July 7, 2021

China is the world’s factory and is the preferred destination for low-cost manufacturing. However, some western buyers still have concerns about sourcing from China. These concerns are primarily related to quality and loss of intellectual property rights. Unfortunately, when it comes to loss of IPR, the concerns are not completely unfounded. While IPR violations were quite rampant till a few years ago, in recent times, China’s IPR regime has made a lot of progress.

Over the years, China has become more aware of the IPR issues and has made a lot of changes. Today, China is the world leader in number of patents. Also, damage payouts for IPR thefts have gone up continually. In fact, in 2005, China had become the most litigious IP society in the world.

In 2014, China introduced the new trademark law, which among things also imposed harsher penalties on trademark infringements. It significantly increased the maximum statutory damages awarded in cases of trademark infringement. In the same year, China set up three intellectual property courts one each in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.

Then in 2017, China introduced specialized intellectual property adjudication tribunals in Chengdu, Suzhou and Nanjing. Ever since, China has made remarkable progress with regards to enforcement of IP rights and the whole world has acknowledged this change. However, we must note that despite all the progress, you may still face the risk of intellectual property rights infringement. Anyone sourcing products from China, particularly those involved in new product development, must protect their interests. Here are some things that importers should take care of in order to safeguard their intellectual property rights in China.

Register your intellectual property in China

If you have registered your IP in EU, Australia or the United States, it will not protect your IP in China. So, you must register your rights in China. When you decide to manufacture in China, you should register the design patents, copyrights and trademarks in the country.

Trademarks are fast and easy to register in China. Please note that China has the first-to-file trademark system unlike some other countries that have the first-to-use system. So, anyone who files the trademark first gets it, even if you have been using the trademark in your own country for many years.

Under the Berne convention, copyrights are automatically protected in China. However, it is advisable to file your copyrights in China in order to have full protection. This way you will be able to quickly take the infringer to court in case of a violation.

In China, patents must be filed before any public disclosure. Also, you can very easily file design patents in China.

Employ all principles of intellectual property protection

All the standard practices of intellectual property protection should be implemented with utmost care. You must sign a no-disclosure, non-use and non-circumvention agreement with the supplier. It is the most common way to protect intellectual property rights in China. Give only restricted access to sensitive information, computers, laptops and other systems that store information.

Choose only reputed manufacturers

The simplest way to protect your intellectual property rights in China is to work with only reputed and reliable manufacturers, especially when new product development is involved. Such manufacturers would not put their reputation at risk by indulging in something as bad as IPR infringement. It is often the smaller and lesser-known suppliers that would indulge in something like that to make some easy money.

Register your intellectual property with customs

It is essential to register your IP with the China customs, because the customs will block the products that infringe IP from entering or leaving the country. So, even if you are just having your products manufactured in China, it makes sense to register your IP with the customs.

Constantly keep an eye out on infringement

Once you have registered your IP in China, you should constantly monitor it. You can easily use search engines such as Google to check for any violations. You can also lookup the online database of Chinese Trademark Office to search for trademark applications and registrations.

Sourcing from China-Hiring professional help

Sourcing products from another country can be laden with challenges. However, when done right, global sourcing can significantly improve your margins and give you an edge in the market. To develop a healthy supply chain in China, you must hire the services of a highly professional and experienced sourcing agent. From finding the right supplier to doing quality inspections and shipping the products to you, the sourcing agent China will do everything for you. Once you engage the services of a Chinese sourcing agent, you can stay assured that you will receive the right products within the stipulated time periods.

Please get in touch with our team now to discuss your requirements.