It’s not just foreign companies that sell goods in China who should seek protection for their intellectual property.
There is a common misconception that if a business manufactures in China without selling goods in China, it doesn’t need IP protection in China.
When you place your brand on goods, manufactured in China, you are using your trade mark in China. If you don’t register your intellectual property – including trade marks, patents, copyright and domain names – someone else could register your IP first.
There are serious risks for manufacturers who don’t register their IP in China:
- you can fall victim to people or companies who register your trade marks in China before you do. They may then be asked you to buy the trade mark back to continue manufacturing
- if another person or company owns your trade mark in China, your manufactured goods can be seized at the border by customs, as suspected counterfeit goods
- you can be sued for infringement by the owner of the trade mark in China
- other people could set up websites in China using your brand, trading or domain name, causing confusion in the market
- this may mean that you may not be able to secure patent protection, and you will lose the opportunity to license your IP and generate revenue.
These problems can have a severe impact on your ability to operate in China and can be very expensive and time-consuming to resolve.
The best thing to do is register your patent, trade mark, copyright and domain in China before you engage with manufactures.