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Cracking Down Hard on Malicious Registrations

Officials share how a new law and tech are helping eliminate dubious trademark filings Trademark authorities will increase their efforts to crack down on malicious registrations, officials said at a publicity event in Beijing on Friday. 


The resolution came against the backdrop of the amended Trademark Law that came into effect on Nov 1. Revisions in the law include the refusal to grant trademarks to malicious filings that are not for business use. 


Xia Qing, an official from the trademark office of the National Intellectual Property Administration, said that the office is formulating regulations on examining and reviewing applications, in a bid to help contain malicious registrations and the hoarding of trademarks. 


The office has taken measures in recent years, such as shortening the period of handling a trademark application and lowering related charges, but these changes have often been taken advantage of by certain people for trademark squatting and hoarding, said Zheng Haiyan, an official from the national trademark authority. 


She said previously it was proposed not to regulate malicious registration at the examining stage, but with a surge in trademark squatting and hoarding, there is now a consensus among the authorities that the crackdown on malicious registration should be done earlier in the process. 


In 2017, the authorities rejected applications from a Shanghai-based company and its related entities, which together filed applications for about 5,000 trademarks. They were all names of administrative regions below the county level. According to the Trademark Law, the names of counties and those above the county level cannot be registered as trademarks except when they have other meanings or are part of collective and certification marks. 


"The applicants are crafty," Zheng said, adding that trademark squatting on public resources would disturb the order of trademark registration. She said the amended Trademark Law offers clear and direct support for cracking down on trademark hoarding. 


While the authorities had been cautious about dealing with registrations, the previous law did not have clear regulations and there were disputes about whether the examiners, who are responsible for dealing with filings, were able to reject dubious applications, she said. 


But since the amended Trademark Law was issued in April, there have been notable changes, she said. Since then, the trademark authorities have monitored applicants that ranked in the top 20 nationwide by number of monthly filings. 


Comparing the situation in 2018 with that of the first 11 months of this year, they found the number of individuals and lesser-known companies on the list declined, and that almost all the top 20 applicants were large companies. 


However, this did not mean there was no longer malicious registration or hoarding of trademarks, but indicated that things were getting more difficult to detect, Zheng said. 


For now, she said, some applicants were filing for registration of fewer than 10 trademarks at a time and did this every once in a while; and some others had set up many associated companies to jointly apply for trademarks. 


To counter this, the authorities have enhanced the use of information technology to help them with their work. 


Previously, trademark applications were automatically assigned to examiners. Thus filings from one applicant could go to different examiners, even to those working in different cities. But now they go to the same examiner, making it easier to track malicious filings. 


A new function has been added to the examining system to alert examiners to malicious filings. The function includes objections to the trademark filing and ongoing litigation, and media coverage. Separately, a communication mechanism has been established among examiners from different regions, through which, anyone who finds suspected malicious filings can inform the other examiners. 


Source: China Daily

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