By Ms. Haiyu Li, Lawyer at Chofn IP
On 10 November 2021, the China National IP Administration (CNIPA) announced that it will shorten a smooth trademark registration from eight months to seven months by the end of this year. A smooth registration refers to one that encounters no official action, delayed payment of official fee, same-day application, administrative review, administrative litigation, service by publication, suspension, priority claim, partial rejection, division of application, rejection appeal, opposition, etc. The seven-month period begins from the filing date and ends on the registration publication date, with the three-month opposition period included. The average examination period will be stably kept within four months.
According to Article 28 of the Chinese Trademark Law, the Trademark Office is supposed to finish examining a trademark application within nine months from the date of receiving the application documents through granting provisional approval for publication in the Gazette if the relevant regulations of this Law have been complied with. The CNIPA is doing better than the statutory requirement, though a large portion of the new applications will encounter the aforesaid problems, more or less.
The seven-month smooth registration does not apply to non-traditional or special trademarks (e.g., 3D marks, color combination marks, sound marks, certification marks, collective marks, GIs). Neither does the seven-month period apply to international registration, which shall take at least 12 months to obtain protection. In other words, national applications will progress faster if everything goes smoothly. In order to take advantage of the shortened period, it is highly advisable for the applicants to cooperate with local trademark attorneys to do prior homework, including but not limited to standardization of specification or mark prints and prior search.
The CNIPA also released a video course in Chinese in three parts to explain the announcement at the links below.