The 5 Keys to Defending Your IP from China


Navigating the intricate panorama of mental property (IP) safety in China is a paramount concern for companies in right now’s world market. Countering counterfeiting and IP infringement requires a complete technique that goes past borders. This publish units out the 5 keys to safeguarding your IP belongings from and inside China. From registering your IP to championing inside vigilance, these methods is not going to solely defend your creations, they are going to empower you to thrive.

Register Your IP—in China

This might properly be the Carthago delenda est of the China Legislation Weblog—and for good cause. First, in case your logos and patents should not registered in China (it’s a bit completely different with copyrights), there could also be little or no, if something, you (or we) can do to guard them towards counterfeiting or different infringement. It is because logos and patents not registered in China should not protected underneath Chinese language regulation, besides within the case of a “well-known” trademark, which you nearly definitely should not have.

There are, after all, different dangers as properly, as we mentioned in China Trademark Theft. It’s Baaaaaack in a Large Manner:

Quite a lot of individuals in China make their residing (and a very good one at that) by usurping international logos after which promoting a license to that trademark to the unique, international, license holder. As soon as one involves grip with the truth that China, like a lot of the remainder of the world is a “first to file” nation, one can perceive how simple this usurpation is, and in addition, how simple it’s to stop it.

A number of years in the past, I represented a European firm that ended up having to pay greater than $200,000 to purchase its “personal” trademark in order to not miss out on the Chinese language market solely. However even when you don’t plan to promote your merchandise in China, failing to register your IP can create main issues, as we defined:

The truth that you might be manufacturing your product in China only for export doesn’t in any method reduce the necessity so that you can defend your trademark. As soon as somebody registers “your” trademark in China, they’ve the ability to cease your items on the border and stop them from leaving China. That’s proper, they will cease your items from leaving as a result of they personal the trademark, not you.

On condition that the prices related to registering logos and different IP in China are modest, failing to take action may properly be one of many worst attainable enterprise choices your organization may make.

Oh, and don’t neglect to document your IP with China Customs when you register it. That is primarily your method of letting Customs know that you’re going through a counterfeiting drawback and asking them to maintain a watch out for fakes.

Interact with Native Legislation Enforcement in China

There are two features to working with native regulation enforcement in China First, it’s best to give regulation enforcement a serving to hand by conducting your personal investigations and offering them with actionable intelligence. Second, if regulation enforcement requests help, present it.

This second level might sound an apparent one however supporting IP enforcement exercise can develop into onerous for an organization, particularly if it doesn’t have devoted model safety workers. If the amount of products seized throughout a raid is low, it could not appear worthwhile to pursue the matter. Nonetheless, when you don’t assist native regulation enforcement officers shut their instances, they are going to conclude that you just and your model should not well worth the hassle, and they are going to be much less seemingly that can assist you the subsequent time round.

Sue the Infringer/Counterfeiter in China 

Having labored on greater than my justifiable share of IP litigation issues in Chinese language courts, I can verify that these may be an especially irritating expertise. I as soon as had a slam-dunk China trademark case the place the choose refused to award damages out of concern for the monetary scenario of the pregnant defendant. This displays the truth that in reaching their choices, Chinese language judges usually contemplate the “authorized impact, social impact and political impact.”  On this explicit case, although it will have made authorized sense to compel the defendant to return a few of the cash she had earned from promoting counterfeits, the Chinese language choose determined that favoring a U.S. based mostly multinational over a pregnant native resident wouldn’t be a very good social and political look. I worry that US-China tensions make these kinds of outcomes much more seemingly.

Fortunately, instances corresponding to this (up to now) are usually the exception, not the norm and I’ve dealt with many instances through which Chinese language courts handed down choices in favor of my international shoppers, imposing appreciable harm awards. I even have had many instances the place the specter of an IP lawsuit has led the Chinese language counterparty to pay cash in settlement to my international shoppers. Admittedly although, China harm awards and settlements appear low to international corporations, although the quantities are a big deal for the typical Chinese language citizen.

Your willingness to go to court docket in China is nonetheless essential to indicate that you just imply enterprise, not simply to would-be counterfeiters, but in addition to regulation enforcement. Once I labored in China, I did a number of anti-counterfeiting work for Premier League groups and after a profitable warehouse or store raid, we’d often discover jerseys and different gear for groups apart from our shoppers. More often than not, the police would depart that different stuff behind—they knew which groups would play ball (pun meant) and which wouldn’t. Pursuing counterfeiters additionally sends a robust message to your clients, displaying them that you just really consider your merchandise are useful.

Defend your Home In all places

What this implies is that it’s best to do all you’ll be able to to determine and thwart inside threats from inside your personal group and from your personal suppliers and distributers. As I discussed in How one can Transfer Your Manufacturing from China AND Defend Your IP:

[I]n the face of a diminished capability to depend on the authorized system for cover, savvy companies have to do all they will to guard themselves—and safety begins at residence. By way of preventive efforts at their manufacturing amenities, companies can go a good distance in the direction of minimizing IP and associated dangers. What kind of prevention are we speaking about? Clearly, you need to guard towards unauthorized (i.e., third shift) manufacturing by your suppliers. Additionally, you will need to stop delicate prototypes from being photographed or extracted, in addition to digital recordsdata with design specs from being leaked. Additionally, you will need to train strict controls over any supplies that would assist criminals enhance the standard of their counterfeits, corresponding to real equipment.

Clear, complete tips are a cornerstone of product safety in China and in every single place else. You probably have skilled professionals in your payroll, they will draft these tips, however you shouldn’t wing it…

Having established tips, the subsequent step is to make sure workers truly adjust to them. Although some factories do a fairly job monitoring themselves, most don’t. This is the reason you want specialised compliance audits, by professionals who perceive the underlying dangers…

And oftentimes most significantly, your contractual framework along with your provider should embrace product-security concerns, corresponding to your proper to audit amenities and supply treatments for IP-related breaches. You nearly definitely will even want country-specific NNN Agreements and Manufacturing Contracts for every new nation through which you might be having your merchandise made. See China NNN ≠ International NDA and Abroad Manufacturing Contracts (OEM, CM and ODM). You might also want a Product Improvement Settlement, a Product Possession Settlement, and a contract defending your molds and tooling. With all of the tariffs and duties coming (and even often going), it additionally is smart to have your manufacturing contract delineate who will in the end be chargeable for paying what.

Educate the Shopper

The ultimate tip is the one corporations usually discover to be probably the most gratifying. Inform your story to your clients. Inform them why they need to be getting the real article and never some low cost knockoff. Be inventive on this regard. Take a few of these seized samples you get out of your raids and put them on show at your retailer. Let clients see, contact, and odor the low-grade pirated crap that’s on the market. In case you’re promoting make-up, present them a video of the clandestine labs the place they make counterfeit lipstick and mascara—and distinction it with your personal, clear amenities. Speak concerning the dangers.

It additionally often is smart so that you can present data to permit the general public to determine fakes by way of the usage of security measures and/or by declaring widespread flaws discovered on counterfeits.

One among our China legal professionals loves to inform the next story, which graphically illustrates why shopping for the true factor issues:

This lawyer was in Shanghai and his favourite uncle was additionally in Shanghai and he met his uncle and a few his associates at a restaurant there. One of many associates talked about having purchased a set of “Ping” golf golf equipment for less than $350. The lawyer instructed this individual that there was no method the golf equipment had been actual Pings. The buddy responded by saying that “even when they don’t seem to be, I nonetheless acquired a wonderful set of golf equipment for less than $350.” Two weeks later the uncle referred to as our lawyer to inform him that he’d been {golfing} together with his buddy and on the second gap, the buddy hit a ball off the tee utilizing his faux Ping driver and the driving force head flew off in his backswing and simply missed hitting somebody within the head who was strolling behind the tee on the time. The buddy proper then and there walked to the clubhouse, tossed his complete set of pretend Pings within the rubbish, and purchased an actual set of Pings proper then and there.


Defending your mental property in China isn’t only a authorized crucial—it’s a strategic necessity. As commerce limitations shift and tensions rise, companies should undertake a proactive stance in securing their improvements. By registering your IP, collaborating with native regulation enforcement, initiating authorized motion when mandatory, fortifying your inside defenses, and educating customers, you’ll be able to forge a resilient defend towards counterfeiting and infringement threats. Within the dynamic interaction between enterprise and regulation, your personal dedication to safeguarding your creations can and can make a distinction.