III. Trademark Protection
Great progress has been made in China's trademark protection work since November 1, 1979, when China resumed the unified registration of trademarks. The "Trademark Law" went into effect on March 1, 1983. The Chinese government promulgated the "Rules for the Implementation of the Trademark Law" in March 1983 to help with the implementation of the law, and in 1988 revised it for the first time. In February 1993, the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) made the first revision to the "Trademark Law" to include service trademarks in the work of trademark protection, strengthen efforts to crack down on trademark infringement and counterfeiting, and improve the trademark registration procedures. In July 1993, the Chinese government made revisions to the "Rules for the Implementation of the Trademark Law" for the second time to bring collective trademarks and certification trademarks into the scope of legal protection of trademarks, and added to it provisions on the protection of "trademarks well known to the public."
In October 2001, the NPC Standing Committee made revisions to the "Trademark Law" for the second time to include three-dimensional trademarks and color combination trademarks in the scope of trademark protection and offer greater protection to well-known trademarks. The revised "Trademark Law" also stipulates that the trademark system shall be used to protect geographical marks, judicial examination shall be added for the certification process of trademark rights, and greater efforts shall be made to crack down on trademark infringement and counterfeiting, thus bringing the relevant provisions of China's "Trademark Law" in line with the principles of WTO's "Agreement on Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights." In August 2002, the Chinese government again revised the "Rules for the Implementation of the Trademark Law" and renamed it "Regulations for the Implementation of the Trademark Law."
In accordance with the provisions of the "Trademark Law" and the "Regulations for the Implementation of the Trademark Law," the State Administration for Industry and Commerce formulated or revised several administrative rules and regulations, including the "Trademark Assessment Rules," "Provisions on the Recognition and Protection of well-known Trademarks," "Procedures for the Management and Registration of Collective Trademarks and Certification Trademarks," "Procedures for the Implementation of Madrid Agreement for the International Registration of Trademarks," and "Procedures for the Administration of the Printing of Trademarks."
As improvements are made in the legal system concerning trademarks and as the general public's awareness about trademarks is heightened, applications for trademark registration in China have soared in recent years. In 1980, applications for trademark registration were only a little more than 20,000. The number reached 132,000 in 1993. In the five years from 2000 to 2004, applications for trademark registration quickly exceeded the key marks of 200,000, 300,000, 400,000 and 500,000, and came to 1,906,000 finally. It means an additional 256,000 applications were submitted in these five years over the total submitted during the 20 years from 1980 to 1999. It accounts for 53.6 percent of the total number of applications submitted from 1980 to 2004. In 2004, 588,000 applications were filed for trademark registration, 136,000 more than the previous year and an increase of 30 percent. The number of applications in 2004 was 2.17 times that in 2001, when China joined the WTO. By the end of 2004, China had had 2,240,000 registered trademarks.
As the investment environment in China is constantly improved, especially after China joined the WTO, both the number of applications for trademark registration from foreigners and the number of registered foreign trademarks have kept increasing. In 1982, there were 1,565 foreign applications for trademark registration in China. The number exceeded 20,000 in 1993 and exceeded 60,000 in 2004. Before 1979, only 20 countries and regions had 5,130 trademarks registered in China. By the end of 2004, 129 countries and regions had had 403,000 trademarks registered in China. This represents almost an 80-fold increase over that in 1979, accounting for 18 percent of the total number of registered trademarks in China.
China has actively fulfilled its obligations to protect internationally well-known trademarks since it joined the "Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property." In handling cases involving objections and disputes over ownership of trademarks as well as trademark management, the State Administration for Industry and Commerce has certified more than 400 well-known trademarks, effectively protecting according to law the legitimate rights and interests of owners of foreign and Chinese well-known trademarks. In 2004 alone, it certified and offered protection to 153 well-known trademarks, of which 28 were brand-names of foreign enterprises. Meanwhile, administrative organs of industry and commerce at all levels regard the protection of well-known trademarks as their priority and have made greater efforts to protect them. They have severely cracked down on all kinds of illegal acts that have infringed upon the rights and interests of well-known trademarks.
For years, administrative organs of industry and commerce at all levels across China have fully exploited their advantages in trademark administrative law enforcement - complete networks, simple procedures and high efficiency. Focusing on the protection of the right to exclusive use of registered trademarks, and dutifully carrying out their responsibilities, they have investigated and dealt with a large number of trademark infringement and counterfeiting cases, effectively protecting the right to exclusive use of registered trademarks of both foreign and domestic trademark owners, and safeguarding the legitimate rights and interests of consumers. From 2001 to 2004, administrative organs of industry and commerce at all levels across China dealt with 169,600 cases that violated the trademark laws and regulations. Of these, 113,000 cases involved trademark infringement and counterfeiting (12,000 cases involved foreign trademarks), and 56,600 cases were other types of violations of trademark laws and regulations. They confiscated and destroyed 529 million pieces (sets) of counterfeiting trademark logos, and transferred 286 cases involving 300 people to judicial organs to pursue their criminal responsibilities. In 2004, in accordance with the unified plan and arrangement of the State Council on IPR protection and that of the State Administration for Industry and Commerce on the protection of the right to exclusive use of registered trademarks, administrative organs of industry and commerce at all levels across China launched three special campaigns that focused on the protection of well-known and foreign-related trademarks, and on dealing with infringements of trademarks of food and medicine. The campaigns effectively protected the right to exclusive use of registered trademarks. According to statistics, in 2004, administrative organs of industry and commerce across China investigated and dealt with 51,851 law-violation cases involving trademarks. Of these, 5,494 concerned foreign trademarks, a 2.6-fold increase of that in 2003. Of the 51,851 cases they investigated, 11,680 were common violations of the trademark laws and regulations. The rest of the cases, altogether 40,171, involved trademark infringement or counterfeiting, an increase of 51.66 percent over 2003. They confiscated and disposed of 38,951,800 pieces (sets) of illegal trademark logos, confiscated 280,800 tools such as moulds and press plates used for the infringement, and confiscated and destroyed 5638.53 tons of items that had been used for the infringement. They transferred to judicial organs 96 cases involving 82 people to pursue their criminal responsibilities.