Trademark applications and registrations
Summary of decisions on various cases

In 2020, the China National Intellectual Property Administration (CNIPA) received a record-high 9.1 million trademark applications, up by a strong 20% from 2019. The number of trademarks approved for registration, however, declined by 9.7%. This flags a downward trend in terms of approval rate, decreasing from 81% to 61% within just one year.

Trademark applications and registrations

The trademark application and registration figures from 2016-2020 in Figure 1 are reproduced from the CNIPA website,(1) with the annual statistical period beginning on 16 December of each year and ending on 15 December of the following year.

Figure 1: trademark application and registration figures from 2016-2020

In contrast to the arduous task of obtaining a trademark registration, securing a cancellation or invalidation decision of a registered trademark has become increasingly easier in China.

Summary of decisions on various cases

Figure 2 compares statistical data from the CNIPA's latest monthly report on trademark review and adjudication cases for the period 16 February 2021-15 March 2021(2) with those from the same period in 2020.(3)

Figure 2: summary of decisions on various cases

Other than the slightly increased rate of rejections in the review of refusals and review of opposition cases, the table corroborates a noticeable growth in the rate of trademark invalidation and cancellation.

As far as invalidation proceedings are concerned, invalidation requests were upheld in around 67% of cases in February 2020, compared with 73% in the same period in 2021. As for the review of non-use cancellation proceedings, the burden is on the trademark owners to prove genuine trademark use in relation to the goods or services for which the mark is registered. The CNIPA is on a trajectory to place evidence under stringent scrutiny, which might help explain the growth in cancellation rates from 73% (2020) to 80% (2021).


The statistics suggest that the CNIPA is maintaining an increasingly crowded trademark registry that has been constantly plagued by bad-faith trademark filings and might be further cluttered by the defensive trademark registrations filed by legitimate brand owners as a countermeasure. By employing approaches such as rejecting dubious trademark applications, upholding cancellation actions against trademarks that have not been put into genuine use and invalidating trademarks whose registration is obtained by unfair means (bad-faith registration), the CNIPA has apparently upped its efforts in decluttering the registry.

Trademark owners navigating the trademark landscape need to keep abreast of CNIPA practice and install an agile and business-savvy brand enforcement strategy to maintain a healthy trademark portfolio and keep bad actors in check.

For further information on this topic please contact Yongjian Lei or Wenjun Zhang at Wanhuida Intellectual Property by telephone (+86 10 6892 1000) or email ([email protected] or [email protected]). The Wanhuida Intellectual Property website can be accessed at


(1) Further information is available here.

(2) Further information is available here.

(3) Further information is available here.