The truth about IP in China

Heard rumours about risky IP practices in China? Here’s the real story. LYNDA SLAVINSKIS

Lynda Slavinskis

By Lynda Slavinskis

I was at the Australia China Business Week Breakfast the other day and one of the major concerns and queries coming from exporters and those who manufacture in China was “how can I protect my IP?” and “is it worth protecting my IP in China?” China is known for its high volume of “rip offs”.

Among many of my clients, there is also often concern expressed that culturally, protection of intellectual property is not a priority in China.

Much of this is myth.

China has a very strong IP protection regime. Their trade mark registration system is actually very similar to the Australian system and involves a process of examination. The fees payable for trade mark registration are fairly similar to Australia and China is a member of the Madrid Protocol, making it possible to register your trade marks in China via IP Australia.

Enforcement of trade marks is also a priority in China and this is illustrated by the number of people who have been prosecuted for making and selling fake Olympic memorabilia and merchandise using the Olympic rings trademark and other trade marks developed for the Beijing games.

What businesses need to be aware of is that there are still cultural aspects that need to be addressed when lodging trade mark applications. You need to think about the potential Chinese translation of your trade mark and ensure that it will make sense in that market. You need to also consider registering the translated version (in Chinese characters) of your trade mark so that it can have maximum impact.


Lynda Slavinskis is an outgoing, intuitive and commercially savvy lawyer. She has worked in-house at Sussan Corporation and Tattersall’s and now assists small and medium businesses with import, export, leases, franchising, employment and general business advice as principal solicitor of Lynda Slavinskis Lawyers & Consultants. Lynda is on the Victorian State Government’s Small Business Advisory Council.

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