Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Chinese Trademarks Are More Important Than You Think

As a Los Angeles patent and trademark attorney, many of my clients ask about the possibility of getting their invention stolen when manufacturering in China. Sorry to scare you, but now you have something else to worry about. Recently, companies manufacturing in China have come across some costly and time-consuming trademark predicaments. It seems that certain players in the Chinese market are using the Chinese trademark system to swindle unsuspecting American companies.

These hucksters sell trademarks back to companies, manipulating the Chinese legal and trademark system. It works something like this: An American company decides to manufacture their product in China, and instructs the manufacturer to affix the American trademark. This company however fails to file a Chinese trademark application. A Chinese trademark trafficker then quickly registers a trademark (a duplicate version of the American trademark) with the Chinese trademark office. Then, with production already going on, this trademark trafficker appears on the scene. In order to either manufacture the product or export it after manufacture, the swindler must be paid off. Additionally, if the American company wants to switch manufacturers in China, someone must be paid.

Lately, Chinese trademark and patent laws have become a hot topic in the international business arena. It is important to know what you are getting yourself into if you are thinking of outsourcing or contracting there. Registering a Chinese trademark is crucial before any steps are taken towards manufacturing or production.


  1. Thanks for this. I had heard of this practice and warned clients to register a Chinese trade mark even if they have no intention of selling their products within China. However, I am uncertain whether registering the English word is adequate, or whether you also need to register a Chinese language version. Do you happen to know.

  2. Shireen, it is advised that you do both in English and Chinese.

  3. Is there an exact "translation"? From what I have been reading, it seems difficult to translate an English word to Chinese characters exactly. Is that wrong? Thanks, MB