As of 1st January 2013, China is allowing the registration of trademarks in connection with the retail and distribution of several medicine-related goods. Specifically, seven items of retail and distribution services have been added to Class 35 under new Sub-class 3509. They are retail and distribution services for:

  • Pharmaceutical, veterinary, sanitary preparations and medical supplies.
  • Medicines.
  • Pharmaceutical preparations.
  • Sanitary preparations.
  • Medical supplies.
  • Veterinary medicines.
  • Veterinary preparations.

This allowance is a notable shift from the previous rules and practice, under which retail and distribution services in general were not available for trademark registration in China.

For examination purposes, these new services are expressly considered to be dissimilar to all existing services in Class 35 (eg, “sales promotion (for others)”) or actual goods (being sold or distributed) in Class 5.

During the transition period, which ended on 31st January 2013, all applications for the new services were treated as having the same filing date. To the extent that the applied-for marks are the same or similar, their priority will be determined in accordance first by way of prior use in China (before 1st January 2013), then by agreement and finally by drawing lots.

All applicants, whether domestic or foreign, are required to submit supporting corporate documents (with the appropriate Chinese translation) showing that their authorised business scope includes the applied-for retail and distribution services. The specification applied for should be carefully worded to avoid rejection by the Trademark Office.

Annie Tsoi

This article first appeared in IAM magazine. For further information please visit www.iam-magazine.com.