As of January this year, the China Trade Mark Office (“CTMO”) is accepting registration of trade marks for “retail or wholesale services of preparations for pharmaceutical, veterinary and sanitary purposes and medical articles”, but only for applicants that hold licenses to sell pharmaceuticals or whose business scope expressly covers such services.  

Until now, the CTMO has not accepted the term “retail and wholesale services” in any context in Class 35, which covers advertising, business management, business administration and office functions. Instead, applicants have had to resort to registering marks using standard wording from the CTMO Classification Guide that may not appropriately describe the services e.g. “sales promotion for others”.  

With the new measures, traders whose services include the retail or wholesale sale of the above-mentioned goods, either online via the internet or through conventional retail outlets, may specifically apply to protect their marks for the sale and distribution of these goods.  

At this time, the new measures do not apply to retail or wholesale services relating to any other types of goods. Although there are as yet no scheduled changes in this regard, it might be reasonable to expect further developments in the next few years.  

In China, prevention is always better than cure, and so eligible applicants are encouraged to apply to protect their trade marks for the new Class 35 services as soon as possible.