Changes to China's trademark laws, effective from May 1, 2014, significantly impact Australian businesses operating in or planning to enter the Chinese market. The Chinese Government is introducing measures to expedite the trademark application process, with new time limits aiming to reduce examination, appeal, and opposition review periods to 9-18 months. Traditionally, obtaining a trademark registration in China could take several years so this shift could be a considerable advantage for Australian companies.
However, the 'Draft Implementing Regulations for the Trademark Law of the People’s Republic of China' introduced more stringent deadlines requiring prompt action from businesses and their legal representatives. Key changes include reducing the response time to office actions from 30 to 15 days and shortening the period for submitting supplemental evidence in trademark oppositions or reviews from 3 months to 30 days. These tighter deadlines necessitate quick evidence collation and decision-making.
Another notable aspect of the draft regulations is allowing trademark applicants to split their applications if an opposition targets only some designated goods/services. This provision enables part of the application to register unopposed goods/services, offering some trademark protection.
With China leading in global trademark application filings, these reforms aim to streamline the process. Observers are keen to see if the Chinese Trade Mark Office, paralleling the expansion of the Chinese Patent Office, will increase its examiner numbers to handle the influx of applications efficiently. These changes signify a proactive step towards making China’s trademark system more efficient, albeit with increased demands on applicants' responsiveness.