SCIO briefing on development of China's intellectual property rights

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Shen Changyu, commissioner of the State Intellectual Property Office

Yu Cike, spokesperson of the National Copyright Administration

Xi Yanchun, vice director-general of the Press Bureau, State Council Information Office

April 24, 2018

Economic Daily:

I have two questions for Mr. Cui. First, what measures has the Trademark Bureau taken in respect to deepening trademark registration facilitation reform, strengthening the protection of the exclusive use of trademark and cracking down on trademark infringements? Second, this year's government work report has put forward a requirement to substantially shorten the trademark registration cycle; what measures will be taken next to implement this policy, curb malicious trademark registration and strengthen the protection of the exclusive use of trademark? Thank you.

Cui Shoudong:

The first question is about our work on facilitating and supervising trademark registration in recent years. Under trademark law, our bureau's functions include trademark registration and management. We have done a lot of work, especially since 2016, on registration facilitation. Therefore, when we summarized our work from last year, we said 2017 had witnessed our greatest efforts on reform and most effective achievements. We have introduced several documents, including those concerning the deepening reform of trademark registration facilitation, improving the efficiency of trademark examination and implementing trademark brand strategies. 

I think our efforts have generated obvious effects after one year's work.

First, we have broadened the application channels, shortened the investigation period, and optimized the investigation procedures. Currently, there are 123 counters nationwide accepting trademark applications. Almost all major cities, cities at the prefectural level and above, and county-level cities have such offices. This was a reform in 2016. Since the pilot reforms in Ya'an and Taizhou cities in May 2016, we have established 123 such counters, and 58 counters for registration of pledge. Previously, only the trademark hall accepted trademark applications. Now there are more channels, among which the counter is an important one. 

Second, we have founded trademark investigation cooperation centers outside Beijing. There are three such centers in Shanghai, Chongqing and Guangzhou. The Guangzhou center was founded prior to the ones in Shanghai and Chongqing, which has made trademark registration more convenient. We plan to found trademark investigation centers in Henan and Shandong provinces. This is an institutional reform. Furthermore, we have made the internet an important application channel. All applicants have been able to submit their trademark applications on the internet since March 10, 2017, and 23 kinds of businesses related to trademark can be directly submitted and processed via the internet. In 2017, 4.897 million trademark applications were made on the internet, 86 percent of the total, and 23 percentage points higher than five years ago.

Third, the procedures have been optimized. The investigation period of trademark has shortened from nine months in 2014, which is stipulated by the Trademark Law, to eight months due to our efforts last year, and we plan to further shorten it to six months. And it takes two months now to issue the notice of acceptance of trademark instead of six months. Over the past two years, we have unveiled important reform measures almost every one to two months. The procedures, like the international registration and geographical indication applications, have been greatly simplified. We have issued e-notices to 500 agencies and counters. This is an important reform. We issue 19,600 such e-notices every day on average, and the delivery efficiency is much higher than before. 

There is another important reform. By implementing the State Council's reform to streamline administration, delegate powers and improve regulation and services, we have reduced trademark application fees, and helped ease the applicants' financial burdens. From April 1, 2017, the trademark application fee was reduced from 600 yuan to 300 yuan, and the other fees have also been markedly lower. We have done a lot of work to facilitate trademark registration.  

In an effort to better regulate the registration of trademark, we take measures to prevent malicious registering, as well as to further facilitate the registration of trademark, which are two major parts included in the protection of intellectual property rights. During the investigation process, we mainly focus on taking strict measures to fight against trademark registration with outright malicious intentions, and those which do not align with the principles of honesty and credibility. By taking all these measures, we will crack down hard on infringement and counterfeiting. In 2017, we investigated and handled 30,000 violations of laws or regulations, with a total value of 365 million yuan. Great achievements have been made in registration and management. Firstly, we strengthened the management of major cases, accumulating the efforts to fight against trademark infringement. Secondly, we launched projects targeted at the sources of trademark infringement. Thirdly, we made more efforts to protect foreign investment companies. We also stepped up efforts to protect the legal rights of Chinese companies overseas. Fourthly, we made innovations in the method of regulation. With the help of the National Enterprise Credit Information Publicity System, we promoted our classified regulation on risk management.

Starting from April 20, the Trademark Office has been officially included in the State Intellectual Property Office. In past years, the Trademark Office stuck to a problem-oriented direction. Development will not be realized without the reform. In the future, we will deepen the reform to better facilitate trademark registration.

Recently we issued a three-year crucial plan for the reform of trademark registration facilitation. We have reported it to the State Council and also publicly published this plan. The key point of the plan is that the trademark review period has been shortened from seven months last year to six months this year; it will be shortened to five months next year and to four months by the year 2020. How do we see the four-month period? It will be the fastest among the OECD member countries at present and the fastest among countries that implement the relative grounds examination system. This is because China's trademarks application volume is so large; for example, there were 1.52 million entries in the first quarter of this year alone, an increase of more than 80 percent year-over-year. In some developed countries, their annual application volume is only 500,000 to 600,000, while we can reach more than 600,000 within a month. Some other procedures, including trademark changes, transfers, renewals and revocations, need to be simplified. We must reduce fees and charges, and greatly ease the process for applicants. You can check our three-year plan for details, which has already been made public.

With regard to supervision, through this institutional reform, under the direct leadership of the State Intellectual Property Office, we will take more stringent measures to combat infringement of intellectual property rights and counterfeits, in order to protect intellectual property rights.

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