The jewel of the Orient – Copyright registration in China

25 Apr 2018

Let’s face it, when one thinks about China, respect and protection of intellectual property rights is not the first thing that springs to mind. Being one of the largest manufacturing countries in the world, China is often seen as the source of goods which may infringe upon the rights of brand holders, whether in the form of trade mark infringement, patent infringement or copyright infringement.

However, what would you say if I told you that there is a treasure in China that could assist you in stopping infringing goods from ever reaching the shores of South Africa (or many other countries for that matter)? Like the Great Wall, the registration of copyright in China can assist brand holders in obstructing those unwanted brand raiders!

Let’s look at practical example to illustrate how the registration of copyright in China can assist in the enforcement of brand rights in South Africa.

A local rock band in South Africa has a distinctive logo which they wish to protect. The logo appears on all their merchandise and they are making millions selling the “merch” (as they call it) to their adoring fans. Although the band is making millions, they do not have the budget to register their trade marks in China and their trade mark applications in South Africa have yet to proceed to registration, making enforcement in South Africa somewhat difficult. The band realises that an infringing party in South Africa is importing textile materials from a manufacturer in China which incorporates their logo and which is being adapted into t-shirts and curtains for sale in South Africa. The sale of the unofficial merchandise is having a serious impact on their bottom line and they wish to stop the importation of the textile materials. The band needs a quick and efficient solution.

Enter the Dragon – also known as the registration of their copyright in China. After applying to register the copyright in their logo in China, the band will receive a registration certificate within a matter of months. The effect of the registration certificate is that customs in China may stop any unauthorised shipments of goods incorporating the logo from leaving the shores of China. As an additional layer of protection, the band also applies to South African customs to have their logo registered with the anti-counterfeiting department. The wonderful thing is that as the band now has a registration certificate which means they do not have to go through the arduous task of proving the subsistence of copyright in their work. The dual protection of both the Chinese and South African customs departments ensured that the band rocked on happily ever after.

The registration of copyright in China is an efficient and cost-effective brand protection solution that all rights holders should be aware of. Although this should not by any means be used as a replacement for a trade mark registration, it provides a useful additional layer of protection and can provide an effective and quick solution while trade mark registrations are still in process or where the cost of filing trade mark applications internationally are prohibitive. By assisting brand holders in enforcing their rights, China is quickly changing peoples’ perceptions and fast becoming the jewel of the orient in respect of intellectual property protection.

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(This article is provided for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. For more information on the topic, please contact the author/s or the relevant provider.)
Robin Richardson

Robin is an Associate and Trade Mark Attorney at KISCH IP. He has experience in trade mark searching, filing and prosecution, trade mark brand portfolio management and audits, as well... Read more about Robin Richardson


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