Two changes at the China Trademark Office likely will result in faster examination of trademark applications filed there.

At the 2009 High-Level Forum on Intellectual Property Rights of Chinese and Foreign Enterprises, Mr. Shouyi Wang, Deputy Director of the Trademark Office of the State Administration for Industry and Commerce (CTMO), announced that the CTMO is shortening its trademark application examination period by almost 50% - from 30 months to 19 months. In addition, last January, a number of new trademark application examiners joined CTMO while many others retired. These changes signal a gradual but meaningful shift in CTMO's internal policy and procedures that may impact all applicants vying for trademark rights in China.

New examiners operating under more demanding review periods have yielded increasing numbers of application refusals since the beginning of this year. Instead of abandoning the application at that point, however, local agents often are advising applicants to opt for review of the application by the Trademark Review and Adjudication Board (the TRAB). Perhaps because of the reduced amount of time an application is under examination, the TRAB’s rate of overturning CTMO decisions has steadily been rising.

CTMO has yet to announce formal implementation of the rules requiring faster examination. However, they are expected to be published soon.