After four years of legislative debate, the eagerly anticipated amendment to the existing PRC Trademark Law come into force on 1 May 2014.

This gives brand owners one year to get to grips with the practical implications of the New Law and to ensure they are ready to take advantage of the positive amendments and neutralize the risks posed by the more challenging amendments.

The key amendments to the Chinese Trademark Law are that:

  1. an unsuccessful opponent in opposition proceedings will be unable to appeal decisions of the Chinese Trade Mark Office (“CTMO”) to the Trademark Review and Adjudication Board (“TRAB”);
  2. only “interested” parties can oppose trademark applications;
  3. trademark applications must be filed in accordance with principles of “good faith” and “honesty” and trademark agencies must also act in good faith and will be obliged to refuse instructions where they “know or should know” that an applicant is a trademark pirate;
  4. courts will have the power to impose significantly increased penalties against infringers;
  5. multi-class trademark applications will be permitted for the first time; and
  6. the trademark application process will be streamlined by introducing e-filing and strict time limits in which the CTMO and TRAB must render decisions.