May 4, 2017, the State Administration for Industry and Commerce of China ("SAIC") issued Measures for Oral Hearing for Trademark Review Cases (the "Measures") which provides detailed requirements and procedures for conducting oral hearing during trademark review cases handled by Trademark Review and Adjudication Board ("TRAB").
The Measures provides the relevant parties an opportunity to make full arguments on evidence submitted for TRAB cases. According to the Measures, the oral hearing will focus on cross-examination of evidence. During the oral hearing, the relevant parties are able to review the other side's evidence and make arguments as to the evidence's authenticity, relevancy, legitimacy and strength. The relevant parties can also bring witnesses to the oral hearing upon the approval of TRAB. Accordingly, where the copy of evidence received from TRAB is suspicious, the parties will have a chance to verify the same in detail during the oral hearing.
However, according to the Measures, the TRAB will have a large discretion on whether or not to hold an oral hearing for a specific case. Article 2 of the Measures provides that the TRAB can decide to hold an oral hearing depending on the request the relevant parties or the status of the case. The Measures unfortunately did not list any circumstances in which the TRAB must hold the oral hearing or must not hold the oral hearing. Given this, the application for oral hearing will largely be on an attempt basis. We therefore suggest we be discreet and cost-effective and do not apply for the oral hearing unless the case is critical.
We are closely monitoring the TRAB's practice. Will let you know if there are other substantial updates.