According to article 10 of the Chinese Trademark Law, the signs that are identical with or similar to the State name of any foreign countries shall not be used as trademarks, except those approved by the government of the country concerned. The state name here refers to the full name, the short name or the abbreviated name.
- Examination standards:
According to the standards, a mark that has identical words/characters with a state name of a foreign country is considered as identical with the state name; a mark that contains a state name of a foreign country or its words/characters are similar to the state name, the mark is considered as similar to the state name.
- mark identical to a state name
Click here to view image. on travel bags
(FRANCE is a country name)
- mark similar to a state name
Click here to view image. on “cigarette filters”
(CANADA is a country name)
There are some exceptions（①～⑥, shown as below） that the marks that are identical with or similar to state names can be registered in China.
①The government of the country concerned approves the registration of the mark. The applicant in this case shall provide the approval document in written to the Trademark Office. If this mark is already registered in the foreign country, the registration certificate is viewed as the approval document.
②The mark has other clear meaning and will not mislead the public.
Click here to view image. on “shoes, clothing”
(Frank is similar to the country name “France”, but it has its own meanings, like “characterized by directness in manner or speech ”or a person’s name.)
③The mark is similar to the old name of a country.
Click here to view image. on “clothing”
(these two characters stand for old name of USA by Chinese people)
But if this mark is liable to mislead the public on the origin of the goods, the mark will be rejected.
Click here to view image. on “ginseng” is not allowed.
④The mark consists of abbreviated names of two or more countries and will not mislead the public on the origin of goods.
Click here to view image. on “lighting apparatus”
(The first character is abbreviated name of China, and the second is of France)
But, if the mark is liable to mislead the public on the origin of the goods, it will be rejected.
Click here to view image. on “wine” is not allowed.
⑤The mark has words/characters identical with or similar to a state name, but the mark as a whole is the name of the applicant.
Click here to view image. on “financial services”
The applicant name is “DEUTSCHE BANK”.
⑥The state name in the mark is independent from other distinguishable parts of the mark, and it only refers to the real country of the applicant.
Click here to view image. on “chocolate”
- Suggestions of Application
If the mark contains the name of a country, for example “Japan”, the applicant is advised to file the application in Japan first, and then file the application in China later. The registration certificate of its Japanese mark shall be filed together as the approval document of its government for the registration in China.
If the application is first filed in China and rejected by the Chinese Trademark Office, the applicant shall file the review with the Chinese Trademark Review and Adjudication Board (TRAB) to keep the application alive, and meanwhile file the application in Japan as soon as possible. The registration certificate of the mark in Japan can be filed later with the TRAB.
A copy of the registration certificate of the Japanese mark is acceptable in China, and no notarization or legalization is required.