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The 3rd Amendment to the Trademark Law of the People's Republic of China

The Trademark Law of the People's Republic of China has been recently amended for the third time on August 30, 2013. The Trademark Law, being enacted on April 23, 1982, had been amended twice before in 1993 and 2001. The new Trademark Law of 2013 will come into effect on May 1, 2014.

According to the statistics of the China Trademark Office, there are, at the end of 2012, over eleven million three hundred and sixty thousand trademark applications and over seven million six hundred and fifty-six thousand trademark registrations, and the number of effectively registered trademarks is up to six million and 4 hundred thousand. The Government thirdly amended the Trademark Law to meet with the needs of the development of the country's market economy.

There are several main points in the third amendment of the Trademark Law, which are listed as follows:

1)Voice mark is added into the types of trademarks that can be applied for registration;

2)The trademark application may be filed electronically or in paper files, and a same mark can be filed in one application for multi-classes;

3)The statutory periods of official examination or adjudication are specified, for example, where a trademark application for registration is filed, the Trademark Office shall finish the examination thereof in 9 months from the date of application; and the periods of examination for opposition and review on refusal are respectively 12-month and 9-month;

4)It is specifically provided that well-known trademark cannot be used in the publication of Ads, exhibitions and other business activities, and well-known trademark can only be recognized during the specific case by the Trademark Office, the Trademark Appeal Board, or the People's Court;

5)Where someone uses other's well-known trademark or registered trademark as his own business name and leads to misunderstanding and confuse by the public, it shall belong to unfair competition;

6)It is specifically forbidden that someone rush to register other's trademark where he has already known other's earlier use of that trademark due to business or other relationship;

7)The legal responsibilities of trademark agents are added, for example, trademark agents shall keep their clients' business secrets, and, trademark agents are forbidden to acting on behalf of someone who is rush-to-registering;

8)Where someone is intentionally providing convenient conditions to help other else to commit trademark infringement, such behavior shall also belong to trademark infringement;

9)The maximum punitive damages in trademark infringement is increased to three million RMB judged by the People's Court.

From the above amendments, we could see that, the trademark application for registration in China is becoming more convenient to the applicants, and the protections of trademark rights, including registered trademarks and well-known trademarks, are strengthened, for the purpose of maintaining a fair competitive market.