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2018-10-19 11:36:39

China’s first trademark office for helping domestic businesses protect their intellectual property overseas was established Wednesday in Shanghai, according to business news outlet Jiemian.

The Shanghai Trademark Overseas Protection Office will support Chinese companies in international copyright disputes by providing guidance, training, and legal services. It will also create a think tank of experts to share their professional suggestions with businesses.

Though China is rife with bootleg DVDs, shoes with backward Nike swoosh logos, and countless imitations of other foreign products, its own time-honored brands fall victim to copycats too, according to the State Administration for Industry and Commerce. 

A sign hangs next to the entrance of China’s first trademark protection office in Shanghai, Oct. 17, 2018. From the official website of the Shanghai Administration for Industry and Commerce.

A sign hangs next to the entrance of China’s first trademark protection office in Shanghai, Oct. 17, 2018. From the official website of the Shanghai Administration for Industry and Commerce.

When Chinese companies learn that their trademarks are being infringed upon, they often find it costly and complicated to pursue legal action. Wangzhihe — a brand of fermented bean curd — took more than two years to finally win a lawsuit in 2009 against a German supermarket that had appropriated its logo. Other brands, like Wuliangye rice wine and Dabao cosmetics, have also fallen prey to overseas imitators.

The official website of the SAIC’s trademark office shows that on more than 80 occasions since 2004, well-known domestic brands have filed trademark infringement cases against foreign companies.

“When we talk about trademark infringement, people often think of foreign brands having their trademarks infringed upon in China and easily overlook the issue of Chinese brands facing the same problems abroad,” Xu Xinming, an intellectual property lawyer at Mingtai Law Firm in Beijing, told Sixth Tone.

According to Xu, the office’s services will be a boon to Chinese businesses, not only by reducing the cost of legal disputes but also by improving the likelihood of winning trademark infringement cases.

Correction: The website listing more than 80 infringements cases since 2004 is that of the SAIC’s trademark office, not of the newly established office.

Editor: David Paulk.

(Header image: A lawyer representing fermented bean curd brand Wangzhihe presents a trademark infringement case against a German supermarket, Beijing, March 29, 2009. Hu Xuebai/VCG)