As enterprises pay more attention to intellectual property rights, customs registration has become an increasingly important step in the development of enterprise trade. For enterprises that plan or have carried out commercial activities in China, in addition to protecting their own intellectual property rights by registering trademarks at CTMO, the corresponding registration of trademarks in PRC Customs is a further guarantee that should be considered.
- What is TM Registration at Customs?
Trademark customs registration refers to the procedure that the rights holder applies to the Customs for filing the trademark right that needs to be protected in advance in order to obtain the protection of Customs. According to the Regulations on the Customs Protection of Intellectual Property Rights, the rights holder can request customs to detain when discovering infringing goods. Customs can also take the initiative to detain infringing goods during the import and export inspection of the goods according to the filing information of the rights holder. As it is relatively difficult for the rights holder to find the infringement on his/her own, according to the data of PRC Customs, the customs protection of intellectual property mainly relies on the initiative of customs.
In essence, if a registered trademark has been filed with customs, when inspecting imported and exported goods, they will investigate and detain the goods that use the trademark protected by Chinese laws and regulations and suspected of trademark infringement, without the permission of the rights holder, and actively contact the rights holder to protect the intellectual property of the enterprise. In practice, the most common reason for customs seizure is trademark infringement, for the reason that the trademark identification does not involve technical means, it can be easily identified by appearance, so the trademark registration at customs is the most simple and effective.
- Why should trademarks be registered at Customs?
Although the current law no longer has a mandatary requirement for trademark registration at customs, such registration is still of great significance to the protection of the trademark rights of enterprises. In principle, when inspecting imported and exported goods, Chinese custom officials should compare the database of the CTMO for confirmation. However, in practice, the basis of the Customs Department is more the trademark database which has been filed in customs. In other words, the registered trademark can be effectively compared at the first instance of customs import and export inspection, so as to reduce the risk of further circulation of the infringing trademark.
- How to register a Trademark at customs?
At present, the General Administration of Customs of China has cancelled the cost of trademark registration, that is to say, the registration is free of charge. All registration operations are conducted online, and the required materials are uploaded through the Customs Intellectual Property filing system. The review period of materials is 30 days from the date of receiving all application documents, the filing results can then be obtained.
- Period of Validity
The registration shall take effect from the date of approval of the General Administration of Customs, and the time limit shall be 10 years; for trademarks with less than 10 years of validity, it shall be calculated as the remaining validity period of the intellectual property right. The period of validity of the customs filing can be extended by means of renewal, which shall be applied at least half a year in advance before the expiration of the period of validity.
Trademark customs registration is helpful for infringing goods to be efficiently discovered by customs, so as to protect the trademark rights of the rights holder. At the same time, it can prevent potential future infringement. We at D’Andrea and Partners Legal Counsel, have a team of experts to help you better understand and manage the trademark registration at Chinese Customs. Do get in touch at email@example.com for any questions or assistance.