Record filings still 'not powerful'

16:57, March 03, 2010      

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Despite the global economic downturn, the number of trademark applications and approved registrations set all-time records in China last year to rank No 1 worldwide.

By the end of 2009, more than 7.2 million applications and nearly 4.3 million approvals had been filed or registered over a period of three decades, with last year's 830,000 applications surpassing the previous record of 766,000 in 2006, according to the trademark office of State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC).

"However, a backlog of applications has become a big problem with the substantial increase in applications for trademark registration in recent years," Zhao said. "The most crucial reason is that we do not have enough staff."

Zhou Bohua, director of SAIC, said the administration recruited 300 auxiliary trademark examiners, opened new offices and strengthened the overall trademark examination system to meet the crush of applications.

More than 1.4 million applications were fully processed last year, an 89 percent rise over the previous year. The average examination period was shortened to 17 months from the previous 30 months.

During the first nine months last year, more a million applications were processed, equal to the total workload of the previous 39 months.

The trademark office also resolved 25,020 disputes in 2009, up 127.6 percent over 2008.

Zhao Gang, deputy director of the office, cited improved efficiency as a contributing factor to the increase.

Shorter processing time boosted trust in trademark registration, which together with China's economic recovery, resulted in the record number last year, Zhao said.

This year another 1.4 million applications are anticipated, while processing time is expected to be cut to less than 12 months.

As a part of intellectual property rights, trademarks impact producers, business operators and consumers, Zhao said. "Trademark management plays an important role in promoting economic and social development and building an innovative country," he added.

"Although China is a big country for trademarks, it is not a powerful one," Zhao said.

In spite of the large number of trademarks in China, its average in relation to markets is comparatively small. In particular, the number of internationally famous trademarks lags far behind many countries, Zhao noted.

Zhao said his department will increase efforts in trademark protection to help Chinese companies build brands.

China has received the most approvals of any nation in the Madrid International Trademark Registration process for five consecutive years and now ranks in the global top 10.

But the scale of China's economy and foreign trade is not matched by international trademarks, so "we face mounting pressure in maintaining legal rights for trademarks abroad", Zhao said.

Trademark filings gained momentum since China restored national trademark registration in 1979. Applications exploded from 26,000 in 1980 to 766,000 in 2006.

Source: China Daily
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