China Trademark Regime How to Protect Your Brand in the Mainland
Foreign companies entering the Chinese market need to navigate its complex trademark regime, which facilitates protections but imposes certain unique limitations that brands must work around.
China Briefing breaks down key aspects of Chinas trademark regime to help foreign investors make the right decisions that can help protect their brand in the mainland.
Last December, Samsung live streamed its announcement of an exciting new collaboration with Supreme, the international hype streetwear brand. Supreme was to open a flagship store in Shanghai and participate in a Mercedes-Benz runway show. There was just one catch. The brand wasnt the original, Supreme New York, and Samsungs digital marketers were left scrambling for a response.
Thats because the company Samsung had been talking to were Supreme Italia, which hold product retail and marketing authorization in the Asia-Pacific region, except in Japan. The original company based in New York, had already run into trademark disputes with the Italian brand in other jurisdictions.
Well-known brands often dont need to register their trademarks, but Chinas laws follow a first-to-file system. It also does not recognize trademarks registered in other jurisdictions. Moreover, in this specific case, the name supreme being a descriptor complicated the situation _ since the 1990s, over a hundred applicants have filed for trademarks using the name supreme in China.
Samsung ultimately chose to drop the collaboration; benefiting from legal loopholes in the trademark law would have set a bad precedent. On its part, Supreme New York announced in early March that it was seeking legal recourse over its trademark infringement in China.