China Trademark Office (CTMO) announced on its official website on Thursday, March 24, that it is introducing some new practical measures in order to provide more efficient and convenient services for the brand owners in their trademark application procedures. It is the first time in recent years that CTMO makes efforts to take such convenient-for-applicant measures to meet the needs of brand owners and trademark agencies. We may expect some improvements especially in the office actions concerning amendment of goods/services and acceleration of the administrative process for some after-registration services (such as trademark assignment) in urgent need.
- the publishing of “Guidebook for Trademark Applications”. It covers various issues and FAQ concerning trademark applications ever since the New Trademark Law came into force on May 1, 2014 and was published on the CTMO’s official website. For example, it clarifies that the applications filed before the use of the new Manual of Identification of Goods/Services shall still be examined based on the previous Manual in terms of the classification of goods and services, and the application date will not be retained for a multi-class application when an office action arises even concerning the amendment of goods/services in respect of one class only. This is one of the reasons why we do not recommend our clients to use multi-class applications in China.
- Openness of green channels to expedite the administrative process for some after-registration services. In case of emergencies, applicants may submit a written application together with the relevant documentary evidence requesting CTMO to expedite the corresponding process like trademark assignment and renewal. It is good news for brand owners who are in urgent need, for example, when serious infringement occurs.
- refined Notice for Amendment of Goods/Services. In order to guide applicants in making amendments in line with the official requirement, CTMO will refine the Notice with more explanatory content. In view of CTMO’s current practice in issuing and processing the Notice, which has caused a lot of complaints, we may expect some positive changes in dealing with the office actions.
- Notarization is not required for services such as applications for registration of a portrait or famous person’s name, including the applications for its assignment, removal, name and address correction.
- Sharing of one set of evidence for multiple oppositions. Provided the oppositions are filed within the same month and the evidence is the same, the evidence used in the first filed opposition will suffice and no more evidence is needed for the rest of oppositions filed thereafter, substantially reducing the duplication burden for the benefit of both brand owners and trademark agencies.
- Extension of the scope of combined examination on oppositions. CTMO will combine the examination of oppositions if the parties involved, marks opposed and the evidence are the same, or the parties file the opposition against each other. It is also possible to request CTMO to combine oppositions for examination if brand owners have other appropriate reasons and submit the written application, which is subject to CTMO’s review. This extension measure is to boost efficiency for the sake of brand owners.
- Optimization of CTMO website users’ experience. By improving the stability of its official website, trademark search function and other applications, we may expect CTMO to refine its website, database and functionality.
In conclusion, the above new measures will help improve CTMO’s working quality and efficiency in the near future.