For carrying out the deployment of the trademark and brand strategies under the State Council’s Plan for Market Regulation during the 13th Five-Year Plan Period, further enhance the quality and efficiency of trademark examination, as well as more fully utilize the vital functions of branding in guiding economic development and create a good business environment, the State Administration for Business and Commerce promulgated the Opinions on Deepening the Reform of Trademark Registration Facilitation to Practically Improve the Trademark Registration Efficiency (the “Opinions”) on November 14, 2017. The Opinions primarily include details of reform objectives, changes to systems and mechanisms, optimization of examination procedures, technical support and legal amendments, as highlighted below:
1.Clarification of reform objectives
According to the Opinions, it is hoped that the following can be achieved by the end of 2018: the period for issuing the Notification for Accepting Trademark Registration Application will be reduced from two months to one month, the trademark registration examination period will be reduced from 8 months to 6 months, the trademark assignment examination period will be reduced from 6 months to 4 months, the trademark amendment or renewal examination period will be reduced from 3 months to 2 months, and the delay period for trademark search will be reduced from 3 months to 2 months.
2.Reform of systems and mechanisms
In addition to further reducing the examination cycle, the Opinions also require streamlining the administrative procedures and reforming the current structure through the addition of trademark examination coordination centers, improve the service level of local trademark submission offices, and enhanced guidance and regulation of various trademark examination coordination centers, thereby making trademark registration more convenient.
3.Optimization of examination procedures
On such basis, the Opinions also indicate that the issuance of the Notice for Accepting Trademark Registration Application will need to be faster and shorten the delay period for trademark searches. In addition, electronic issuance of trademark service documentation will be promoted to enhance the efficiency for processing amendments, assignment and renewal. The use of dedicated personnel for trademark examination may further optimize the trademark examination process and enhance examination efficiency.
4.Enhancement to technical support
Meanwhile, the Opinions also indicate the overall strong push for a fully electronic trademark application process with higher smart trademark examination capabilities. An auxiliary smart examination system will be created to assist in the drafting of examination opinions by using advanced technical means such as big data, cloud computing and full-text search. In addition, smart search technologies for logo marks will be explored to enhance the quality and efficiency of logo trademark searches by optimizing the results through image recognition, machine learning and artificial intelligence technologies.
The Opinions also indicate that there will be further research to streamline the conditions for accepting trademark applications and the items of the examination process, demonstrate the possibility of reforming the trademark opposition and examination procedures, and explore the feasibility of imposing a greater use obligation of registered trademarks so that opinions on further amendments of law may be made with respect to the statutory term of opposing a trademark and the obligation of a trademark holder to provide evidence of use for a specific period of time after registration and during trademark renewal.
In general, the Opinions issued by the State Administration for Industry and Commerce primarily seek to streamline trademark registration formalities so that enterprises may dedicate more effort in their implementation of trademark and brand strategies, thereby pushing for and realizing the transformation of Chinese products into Chinese brands and promote continued, healthy and rapid social and economic development. Therefore, this is good news to businesses.