1. Trademark registration, international way vs the national way
For an overseas applicant, there are two ways to do trademark registration in China.
China is a part of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). So companies can submit a trademark application to the WIPO International Bureau through the office of origin. This application will go through formal examination by the Bureau and then substantive examination by China’s Trademark Office (CTMO). Here the overseas applicant may extend their application to China under the Madrid Protocol. That is called International way.
On the other hand, a Chinese trademark agent can be hired to apply for trademark directly with CTMO. In this way, you get a Certificate of Trademark granted directly by CTMO. That is called the national way. For more information, you may check our post: Trademark Registration in China – Procedure
2. What’re the differences between these two ways?
Technically, national or international way, are just different channels for application filing. Thus, the differences are mostly procedural. Eventually, both ways follow the same examination standard based on China’s trademark laws and regulations. And more importantly, the substantive rights granted are the same. Both ways are valid for ten years and can be prolonged for a subsequent 10-years protection period.
3. Trademark registration in a national way is more convenient
However, for practical reasons, you may wish to apply through the national system.
Firstly, application through the national system usually is faster. The time limit for the international way is 12-18 months from the date of international notification. This usually will be granted in 6 months after submission of the application. Hence, totally one and a half to two years; while it’s one and half year for national way.
However, as administrative authorities and courts in China will ask for a Chinese language document as proof of your right. If you want to enforce your rights or help to speed up proceedings when dealing with local authorities, you need to obtain such a certificate from the CTMO to certify your right. Usually, it may take three months or longer and don’t be surprised if it takes more. CTMO once suspended issuing trademark certificates for 7 months just because they used up their paper!
Another problem is, sometimes some local agency or institution only know about the certificate issued by CTMO (granted through national way), with the national emblem of PRC on the top of the paper. It really takes some time and effort to convince them that your document is also officially recognized and enjoy the same right, as one of my clients once experienced.
Source: Sophie Mao from ChinaLawHelp.com