Please note, IP registration and protection can be a complex process, especially in an international context. It is recommended that you seek advice from an IP professional.
China is Australia's largest trading partner. With its population of 1.4 billion people, China presents enormous opportunities for Australian businesses. Australia is both a leading source of resources for China and increasingly a supplier of premium goods and services.
Doing business in China
If your business is expanding to China to either manufacture or sell your product, safeguarding your intellectual property (IP) should be one of your primary considerations.
Like in Australia, IP Rights are registered nationally, meaning your Australian trade mark, design or patent does not provide you any protection in China.
Registering your IP rights as early as possible will save you significant time and money later. IP rights in China are registered through several government bodies:
- patents and designs are registered through the State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO)
- trade marks are registered through the China Trademark Office (CTMO)
- copyright protection applies automatically, but in order to licence or enforce your copyright it needs to be registered through the National Copyright Administration.
IP Counsellor to China
To assist Australian business navigate the Chinese IP system, we appointed David Bennett as the IP Counsellor to China. David assists Australian businesses navigate IP issues with regards to patents, trade marks, designs and copyright. David also engages with the Chinese Government on IP policy.
Guides to help you
Enforcing your rights in China
The administration and enforcement of IP laws in China is quite different from those in Australia.
A number of different government agencies are involved at state and provincial levels. If you have a problem about the protection of your IP rights it can be difficult to know which agency handles your complaint. Your best option is to seek specialist legal advice.
Under administrative enforcement you present evidence of the infringement to local authorities who can conduct raids, seize infringing goods and issue fines.
Civil enforcement remedies are like those available in Australia where courts can issue injunctions and award damages.
Chinese customs can also seize shipments of infringing goods before they leave China’s border.
The Chinese Government has taken steps to make it easier to address enforcement issues by establishing more than 50 IP rights service centres around the country.
- If you're thinking about entering the Chinese market make sure you understand the trade mark application processes.
- China has a first to file trade mark registration system so it's important to know about trade mark enforcement in China.
- Before you establish your business in China you should consider what commercial IP decisions you need to make.