Intellectual Property in China

January 15, 2019
Ryan Woolley

Apple Inc. could have saved $60 million in 2012 if it had only remembered one simple but important tip: register your trademark in China. Years before Apple created the iPad, a Chinese company called Proview registered a trademark for the iPad product name. For Apple to legally sell iPads in China, it was compelled to purchase the iPad trademark from Proview for $60 million. If Apple had simply registered the trademark beforehand, it would only have cost less than $500.

Importance of Chinese Trademarks

Your company’s need to file a trademark is extremely high due to the “first-to-file” laws in China. The “first-to-file” system grants trademark rights to the first company that registers a trademark, regardless as to which has been in business longer. The first company to file has the right to sell products under the trademarked name and the ability to exclude others from doing the same.

Another crucial reason to trademark in China is that trademark protection is often necessary to gain access to Chinese sales channels. Local Chinese distributors generally do not distribute products unless they have a Chinese trademark. Due to these restrictions, if your company currently exports to China or plans to in the future, you should register your trademark now in China to protect both your brand and sales.

Why a Trademark is Beneficial

Trademarks grant your company legal protection for your brand name and logos. This legal protection is vital in China where piracy can be a major issue. Many foreign companies in China suffer huge losses due to knock-off brands and replicas of their product being sold to the Chinese public. If your product is protected by a Chinese trademark, and another company attempts to use your business or product name, you can pursue legal action against that company. Your company’s chances of success in a lawsuit for lost profits are much higher when you have registered an ironclad trademark.


At Sumsion Business Law, we are uniquely qualified to assist you in obtaining a Chinese trademark. Over the summer, Li Mengting, the only Chinese lawyer in Utah and surrounding states, worked in our Provo-based office. Li works for Dentons (the largest law firm in the world) and has extensive experience with Chinese trademark protections. Sumsion Business Law is one of Denton’s Nextlaw affiliates. Our attorneys are ready to help you protect your business both in the United States and abroad.

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