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Amazon Sellers’ Guide: Chinese IP Law: Chapter 8

Book: Amazon Sellers Guide - Chinese Intellectual Property Law

Amazon Sellers’ Guide: Chinese IP Law

By: CJ Rosenbaum Esq., Anthony Famularo Esq., Conor Wiggins, and Moshe Allweis

Chapter Eight

Conclusion: Intellectual Property in China Today and Tomorrow ……….. 92

Table of Authorities ……….. 99

Chapter 8: The Final Comments on Intellectual Property in China

(I).       A Review of the Main Topics
(A) History of Intellectual Property in China

Amazon Sellers Guide - Chinese Intellectual Property Law - Chapter 8aChina’s current intellectual property laws are all relatively new even though China’s historic protections date back to 835 A.D. when the China’s first copyright regulation was instituted.

Trademark protections in China began during the Tang Dynasty (618-907 A.D.) when trade was flourishing and distinction between goods became a necessity.[1] This blossomed into a fully-fledged system during the Ming Dynasty (1368- 1644 A.D.) when registering trademarks between guilds was common.[2]

In 1979, China joined the world of intellectual property and signed a bilateral agreement with the United States to allow for protection of American copyrights, patents and trademarks in China. China joined the Berne Convention, the World Intellectual Property Organization, the Paris Convention, and the Patent Cooperation Treaty; all organizations interested in the furtherance of intellectual property rights. China’s internal organization for intellectual property protections are the State Intellectual Property Organization and the Chinese Trademark Office.

(B) Registering for Intellectual Property Protection in China

Regardless of Seller’s intellectual property protections in the United States, Sellers should register their rights in China. Without formal protection under the intellectual property organizations in China, a Seller being sued for infringement or trying to get another to stop selling a product that closely resembles his or hers may have no redress without filing in China.

(C) Copyright

Since China is member of the Berne Convention, Sellers automatically have copyright protection in China… although these may not be recognized by Chinese courts. When Sellers’ copyright protections arise solely from the Berne Convention’s automatic protection copyright protections, it likely will not be enough to defend the works in the Chinese court system. Sellers should register their rights in China.

The easiest way to register for copyright in China is through the Copyright Protection Center of China. Follow the steps one-by-one.  Sellers can gain copyright for their product in China.

Copyrights in China are protected for the life of the author plus 70 years after death. The cheapest way to deal with an infringer is to first contact the selling-website and inform them of the existing copyright and ask the infringing product to be removed. Products can also be protected through a series of increasingly effective but costly systems such as: registering the copyrights with the Regulations on Customs Protection of Intellectual Property Rights, seeking administrative proceedings to stop local-level infringers, or by bringing a civil or criminal suit in the People’s Court. The Chinese have the power to preserve the infringing material, so the infringer cannot hide it or destroy it if they are caught. The most important power the courts have for the Seller is they can award damages, which technically have no limit, even though courts tend to award less than the damaged party requested.

(D) Trademark

The two possible ways to register for trademark protection is either through the Madrid Protocol or with the Chinese Trademark Office (CTMO). The Madrid Protocol is a user-friendly process in which one can protect their product in multiple countries (about 100) via one simple application.

The issue with the Madrid Protocol, however, is that an applicant who files with WIPO in turn, has the application sent to the CTMO. There is an 11-month period in which the CTMO reviews the application and only after will the applicant find out whether their application was approved or denied. If the applicant decides to file directly with the CTMO it is faster.

Chinese trademarks operate on a first-to-file system. Sellers seeking to protect their mark in China, must register their marks in China.

Sellers have multiple options in China to protect their rights including:

·       Assistance from the Administration for Industry and Commerce (AIC),

·       The Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection, and Quarantine, and;

·       The General Administration of Customs (GAC), or the civil and criminal courts overseen by the IPR Tribunal.

Sellers being sued for trademark infringement should seek legal assistance and have multiple defenses that can be asserted including:  

·       The Sellers filed-first, or

·       The opposing party’s trademark is invalid as it falls under Articles 10, 11, or 12 of the Trademark Law of the People’s Republic of China.

(E) Patent

For patent protection, Sellers should for protection with China’s State Intellectual Property Office of the People’s Republic of China (SIPO).

Amazon Sellers Guide - Chinese Intellectual Property Law - Chapter 8bThere is no international agreement for patent protection in China.  Sellers must file with the SIPO even if they have a patent elsewhere.

China is the patent-filing hub of the world. Applications can be highly complex and can only be filed in Mandarin. China employs a first-come first-serve process.  The first patent application filed in the system will be examined first and could potentially invalidate later patents that appear strikingly similar. Patent litigation, both offensively and defensively, is a complex process and Sellers experiencing issues should hire an experienced Chinese attorney.

(F) Trade Dress

Trade Dress is slowly beginning to be recognized by the courts in China.  Trade dress in China, at the very most, should be seen by the seller as another argument to be made in a pre-existing intellectual property lawsuit to protect their product.

(II).     Final Words

Interaction with the Chinese market, in terms of sales or manufacturing, requires vigilance to identify infringement and defend products and brands.  If there are issues with your products or brands, there are numerous routes available for redress.

TABLE OF AUTHORITIES

·       15 U.S.C. § 1127.

·       About Customs Enforcement of Intellectual Property Right (IPR), General Administration of Customs People’s Republic of China (Nov. 18, 2014), http://english.customs.gov.cn/Statics/aafe7743-c701-4795-91e3-6f3fdf7ce397.html.

·       AFD China Intellectual Property Law Office, China’s Trademark Application Amounts to 3.691 Million in 2016 (Mar. 2017), https://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=e81f8156-da99-435f-8cdc-5ee6fbe6865f.

·       Alex Zhang, Key Considerations for Patent Strategies in China, IP (Nov. 26, 2011), http://www.ipwatchdog.com/2011/11/06/key-considerations-for-patent-strategies-in-china/id=20241/.

·       Apple Fined By China Court for Copyright Violation, BBC News (Dec. 28, 2012).

·       Best Practices: Intellectual Property Protection in China, The US-China Business Council (2015), https://www.uschina.org/reports/best-practices-intellectual-property-protection-china.

·       Charles Baum, Trade Sanctions and the Rule of Law: Lessons from China, Stan. J. E. Asian Aff. 46, 51 (2001), http://www.stanford.edu/group/sjeaa/journal/china4.pdf.

·       China IPR Help Desk, Types of Patent in China, Your IP Insider (Oct. 21, 2014), http://www.youripinsider.eu/types-patents-china/.

·       China Laws (302 texts), WIPO World Intellectual Property Organization (last visited Jun. 18, 2018), http://www.wipo.int/wipolex/en/profile.jsp?code=cn.

·       China Uncovers Almost 1,600 U.S.-Related Intellectual Property Infringements This Year, Reuters (Nov. 8, 2017), https://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-u-s-intellectual-property/china-uncovers-almost-1600-u-s-related-intellectual-property-infringements-this-year-idUSKBN1D90A0.

·       China’s Long and Tortured History, JIPEL Blog (Feb. 4, 2014), https://blog.jipel.law.nyu.edu/2014/02/chinas-long-and-tortured-history-when-it-comes-to-intellectual-property-laws/.

·       Christopher Beam, Bootleg Nation, Slate (Oct. 22, 2009), http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/explainer/2009/10/bootleg_nation.html.

·       CJ Rosenbaum, Your Guide to Amazon Suspensions (2017-2018 ed.).

·       Clare Sebastian, Chinese Trade Secret Theft Nearly Killed Company, CNN tech (Mar. 23, 2018), http://money.cnn.com/2018/03/23/technology/business/american-semiconductor-china-trade/index.html.

·       Copyright Law of the People’s Republic of China, art. 21, § 3 (Feb. 26, 2010).

·       Copyright Law of The People’s Republic of China, art. 21, § 3 (Feb. 26, 2010).

·       Copyright Law of The People’s Republic of China, art. 22, § 4 (Feb. 26, 2010).

·       Copyright Law of the People’s Republic of China, art. 3.

·       Copyright Law of the United States, ch. 3, § 301(a), (Dec. 2016).

·       Copyright Protection Center of China (last visited Jun. 19, 2018), http://www.ccopyright.com/.

·       Criminal Law of the People’s Republic of China, art. 217, § 7 (Mar. 14, 1997).

·       Criminal Law of the People’s Republic of China, ch. 3, § 7, art. 213-215 (Mar. 14, 1997).

·       Crystal J. Chen, Eric C. K. Hsieh, and Sylvester W. L. Hsieh, China: Managing the IP Lifecycle 2013 The Patent Application Process Explained, iam-media (last visited July 16, 2018), http://www.iam-media.com/Intelligence/IP-Lifecycle-China/2013/Articles/The-patent-application-process-explained.

·       Dennis C. Blair and Keith Alexander, China’s Intellectual Property Theft Must Stop, NY Times (Aug. 15, 2017), https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/15/opinion/china-us-intellectual-property-trump.html.

·       File: Madrid e-Services, WIPO World Intellectual Property Organization (last visited Jun. 19, 2018), http://www.wipo.int/madrid/en/file/.

·       Fiona Tam, Italian Chocolate Firm Ferro Wins Court Battle Against China Fakes, South China Morning Post (Apr. 9, 2008), https://www.scmp.com/article/633067/italian-chocolate-firm-ferrero-wins-court-battle-against-china-fakes.

·       Frost, Brown, Todd LLC, China’s Supreme Court Sides With Foreign Owner Of Famous Consumer Product, Despite Lack Of Trademark Protection (Jun. 23, 2008), https://www.frostbrowntodd.com/resources-06-23-2008.html.

·       General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine of P.R.C. (last visited Jun. 22, 2018), http://english.aqsiq.gov.cn/.

·       Global Brand Database, WIPO World Intellectual Property Organization (last visited Jun. 19, 2018), http://www.wipo.int/branddb/en/.

·       Guide To Patent Protection In China, China IPR SME Helpdesk (2013), http://www.china-iprhelpdesk.eu/sites/all/docs/publications/China_IPR_Guide-Guide_to_Patent_Protection_in_China_EN-2013.pdf.

·       Hamideh Ramjerdi & Anthony D’Amato, The Intellectual Property Rights Laws of The People’s Republic of China, 21 N.C.J. Int’l L. & Com. Reg. 169, 172 (1995).

·       Heffels Spiegeler, Trademark Infringement in China and the Procedure to Protect Trademarks (Jan. 22, 2016), http://spiegeler.com/trademark-infringement-in-china-and-procedure-of-trademark-protection/.

·       How To File A Copyright Registration In China, China IPR (2018), http://www.china-iprhelpdesk.eu/sites/china-hd/files/public/v8_How_to_Register_Copyright.pdf.

·       International Registration of Marks – Fee Calculation, WIPO World Intellectual Property Organization (last visited Jun. 19, 2018), http://www.wipo.int/madrid/en/fees/calculator.jsp.

·       Jeff Mason, Exclusive: Trump Considers Big ‘Fine’ Over China Intellectual Property Theft, Reuters (Jan. 17, 2018), https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-trade-exclusive/exclusive-trump-considers-big-fine-over-china-intellectual-property-theft-idUSKBN1F62SR.

·       Law of The People’s Republic of China Against Unfair Competition, art. 10, § 3 (Dec. 1, 1993).

·       Madrid Monitor, WIPO World Intellectual Property Organization (last visited Jun. 19, 2018), http://www.wipo.int/madrid/monitor/en/index.jsp.

·       Matt Slater, List of Chinese AIC Websites, China Checkup (Oct. 15, 2013), https://www.chinacheckup.com/blogs/articles/chinese-aic-websites-list.

·       Matthew Dresden, China Copyright Law: We Need to Talk, China Law Blog (Oct. 17, 2016), https://www.chinalawblog.com/2016/10/china-copyright-law-we-need-to-talk.html.

·       Matthew Dresden, China Trademarks, The Madrid System, And Star Trek, China Law Blog (Jul. 10, 2016), https://www.chinalawblog.com/2016/07/china-trademarks-the-madrid-system-and-star-trek.html.

·       Nicholas Mortl and Derek Turhan, Seller’s Guide to Brand Protection, ch. 5, Amazon Tools, Brand Gating.

·       Office of the United States Trade Representative, 2017 Special 301 Report (last visited Mar. 25, 2017), https://ustr.gov/sites/default/files/301/2017%20Special%20301%20Report%20FINAL.PDF.

·       Office of the United States Trade Representative, 2017 Special 301 Report (last visited Mar. 25, 2017), https://ustr.gov/sites/default/files/301/2017%20Special%20301%20Report%20FINAL.PDF.

·       Patent Law of the People’s Republic of China, ch. I, General Provisions (2008).

·       Patent Law of the People’s Republic of China, ch. II, art. 25 (2008).

·       Patent Law of the People’s Republic of China, ch. V, art. 42 (2008).

·       Patent Law of the People’s Republic of China, ch. V, art. 45 (2008).

·       Patent Law of the People’s Republic of China, ch. V, art. 66 (2008).

·       Patent Law of the People’s Republic of China, ch. VII, art. 67 (2008).

·       Patent Law of the People’s Republic of China, ch. VII, art. 68 (2008).

·       Patti Waldmeir, Apple Loses Trademark Dispute in China, Financial Times (May 4, 2016), https://www.ft.com/content/eb72dc18-11d6-11e6-839f-2922947098f0.

·       Protecting Your Inventions Abroad: Frequently Asked Questions About The Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), WIPO World Intellectual Property Organization (status on Oct 2017).

·       Qiao Dexi A Survey Of Intellectual Property Issues In China-U.S. Trade Negotiations Under The Special 301 Provisions, Pacific Rim Law & Policy Journal Vol. 2 No. 2, 259, 260.

·       Ran Wang and Xiaojing Wang, Protecting Trade Secrets In China, Managing Intellectual Property (Sept. 06, 2017), http://www.managingip.com/Article/3748735/Protecting-trade-secrets-in-China.html.

·       Regulations on Customs Protection of Intellectual Property Rights, Decree No. 395 of State Council of the People’s Republic of China (effective Mar. 1, 2004).

·       Roadmap for Intellectual Property Protection in China, EU-China IPR2, 16.

·       Sai Chen, Determining Patent Infringement and Damages in China, iam-media (last visited Jul. 10, 2018), http://www.iam-media.com/Intelligence/IAM-Yearbook/2018/Country-by-country/Determining-patent-infringement-and-damages-in-China.

·       See Appistry, Inc. v. Amazon.com, Inc., No. C15-311 MJP, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 90004 (W.D. Wash. July 9, 2015) (where Amazon successfully showed the patents were invalid).

·       See generally, Law of the People’s Republic of China Against Unfair Competition (last visited Jun. 27, 2018), http://www.wipo.int/edocs/lexdocs/laws/en/cn/cn011en.pdf.

·       Shanghai Patent & Trademark Office, LLC, World of Warcraft Prevails In First-Instance of Copyright Infringement and Unfair Competition Dispute (last visited Jul. 9, 2018), http://www.sptl.com/newsitem/277585792.

·       Staff Editor, China’s Long and Tortured History When It Comes To Intellectual Property Laws, JIPEL Blog – NYU Journal of Intellectual Property & Entertainment Law (Feb. 4, 2014), https://blog.jipel.law.nyu.edu/2014/02/chinas-long-and-tortured-history-when-it-comes-to-intellectual-property-laws/.

·       State Intellectual Property Office, SIPO.gov (last visited Jun. 19, 18), http://english.sipo.gov.cn/.

·       Steve Brachmann and Gene Quinn, China Increasingly a Preferred Venue for Patent Litigation, Even for US Patent Owners, IPWatchdog (Nov. 10, 2016), http://www.ipwatchdog.com/2016/11/10/china-increasingly-preferred-venue-patent-litigation/id=74585/.

·       Strategies for Patentee Lawsuits Against Design Invalidations, China Business Law Journal (Oct. 9. 2017), https://www.vantageasia.com/strategies-patentee-lawsuits-design-invalidations/.

·       Summary of Madrid Agreement Concerning the International, WIPO World Intellectual Property Organization (last visited Jun. 19, 2018), http://www.wipo.int/treaties/en/registration/madrid/summary_madrid_marks.html.

·       Summary of the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property (1883), WIPO World Intellectual Property Organization (last visited Jun. 22, 2018).

·       Supreme People’s Court, China’s Intellectual Property Judicial Protection Program (2016-2020), law-lib.com (last visited Jun. 18, 2018), http://www.law-lib.com/law/law_view.asp?id=566119.

·       Third Revision of China’s Patent Law, ch. VII, art. 67 (2006 – 2008).

·       Tom Metcalf and Robert LaFranco, Lego Builds New Billionaires as Toymaker Topple Mattel, Bloomberg (Mar. 13, 2013), https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2013-03-13/lego-builds-new-billionaires-as-toymaker-topples-mattel.

·       Toymaker Wins Lego Chinese Copyright Case Against Brick Imitators, Reuters (Dec. 7, 2017), https://www.reuters.com/article/us-lego-china-copyright/toymaker-lego-wins-chinese-copyright-case-against-brick-imitators-idUSKBN1E1157.

·       Trade Dress, law.cornell.edu (last visited Jun. 19, 2018), https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/trade_dress.

·       Trademark Classifications List of Goods and Services, Chinese Trademark Office (last visited Jun. 19, 2018), https://www.chinatrademarkoffice.com/blog/show/190.html.

·       Trademark Law of the People’s Republic of China, art. 10-12 (Aug. 30, 2013).

·       Trademark Law of the People’s Republic of China, ch. II, art. 10 (Aug. 30, 2013).

·       Trademark Law of the People’s Republic of China, ch. II, art. 19 (Aug. 30, 2013).

·       Trademark Law of the People’s Republic of China, ch. II, art. 24 – ch. III, art. 30.

·       U.S. Const. art. I, § 8.

·       U.S. Relations With China 1949-2018, cfr.org (last visited Jun. 18, 2018), https://www.cfr.org/timeline/us-relations-china.

·       Wang Lewei, The Chinese Traditions Inimical to Patent Law, 14 NW. J. Int’l & Bus. 15, 36-56(1993).

·       Wang Ze, Zhou Yunchuan, Zhou Bo, Rui Songyan and Xu Lin, Landmark Trademark Cases in China: An In-Depth Analysis, 61.

·       Wanhuida Peksung, How to File? Directly in China with the CTMO or Through International Extension to China?, Wan Hu Dai Intellectual Property Express, No. 32 (Jul. 2016 Issue), http://www.managingip.com/Article/3669018/How-to-file-Directly-in-China-with-the-CTMO-or-through-international-extension-to-China.html.

·       Wanhuida Peksung, STIHL’s Color Combination Trade Dress Obtains Judicial Protection in China, Lexology (Feb. 14, 2016), https://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=6a580270-1e3f-4482-b7df-3b84457e089e.

·       Wei Shei, Cultural Perplexity in Intellectual Property: Is Stealing a Book an Elegant Offense, 32 N.C.J. Int’l L. & Com. Reg. 1 (2006); quoting John R. Allison & Lianlian Lin, The Evolution of Chinese Attitudes toward Property Rights Invention and Discovery, 20 U. Pa. J. Int’l Econ. L. 735, 744 (1999).

·       WIPO World Intellectual Property Organization, (last visited Jun. 19, 2018), http://www.wipo.int/about-ip/en/.

·       WIPO World Intellectual Property Organization, China Tops Patent, Trademark, Design Filings in 2016 (Dec. 6, 2017), http://www.wipo.int/pressroom/en/articles/2017/article_0013.html.

·       WIPO-Administered Treaties, WIPO World Intellectual Property Organization (last visited Jun. 19, 2018), http://www.wipo.int/treaties/en/ShowResults.jsp?treaty_id=15.

·       Xuri Bao, China: Strengthening Trade Dress Protection In China, World Trademark Review (May 01, 2017), http://www.worldtrademarkreview.com/Magazine/Issue/67/Country-correspondents/Strengthening-trade-dress-protection-in-China.


[1] Hamideh Ramjerdi & Anthony D’Amato, The Intellectual Property Rights Laws of The People’s Republic of China, 21 N.C.J. Int’l L. & Com. Reg. 169, 172 (1995).
[2] Charles Baum, Trade Sanctions and the Rule of Law: Lessons from China, Stan. J. E. Asian Aff. 46, 51 (2001), http://www.stanford.edu/group/sjeaa/journal/china4.pdf.

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