On 14 January 2022 the China National Intellectual Property Administration (CNIPA) released the Measures for Fast-track Examination of Trademark Registration Applications (for Trial Implementation).
The measures became effective on the same day and apply to four specific categories of trademark applications that will be eligible for fast-track procedures. If all conditions are met and fast-track examination is granted, the examination will be completed within 20 working days.
This significantly reduces the nine-month examination period typically experienced by applicants in China.
Article 2 of the measures states that fast-track examination can be requested in the following circumstances:
In order to take advantage of fast-track examination, the measures provide that the following requirements must be met:
In addition to the above requirements, the measures state that paper copies of certain documents must be submitted to the CNIPA. These documents include:
The CNIPA will complete the fast-track examination within 20 days of accepting and approving the request.
During examination, the CNIPA may terminate applications that do not comply with the provisions of the measures; as a result, these will not be subject to fast-track examination and will be examined according to the general procedures prescribed by law.
The measures list three circumstances in which fast-track examination may be terminated:
Relevant parties may lodge oppositions against trademarks that have been preliminarily approved and published in the Trademark Gazette, or file a request for total or partial rejection.
The CNIPA has implemented the measures on a trial basis. However, if applicants meet the requirements, they can take advantage of a significantly reduced examination period. This applies to international brand owners as well, so will be especially useful when quick and urgent protection is needed.
International brand owners should work with local counsel to ensure that their applications meet the requirements and to coordinate the necessary documentation.
It will be interesting to see how many applications will benefit from fast-track examination and whether this becomes a permanent feature of China’s trademark regime.