Patents and trademarks are important designations for products and services that a company offers, as they bestow a certain exclusivity to the company that holds one or both.
Understanding the difference between a patent and a trademark, as well as how to determine if one or both is a valid, legitimate designation, can help you make more informed decisions when negotiating with a Chinese company.
While many use the terms patent and trademark interchangeably, they are in fact two separate distinctions. A patent is an exclusive right granted for an invention, which is a product or a process that provides, in general, a new way of doing something, or offers a new technical solution to a problem. A trademark is a recognizable sign, design, or expression which identifies products or services of a particular source from those of others. (Trademarks used to identify services are typically called service marks.)
When dealing with a Chinese company, it is important to understand how both are administered and governed. Chinese patent law began in 1984 with the passage of the Patent Law of the People’s Republic of China. The National Intellectual Property Administration, also known as the Chinese Patent Office, is the official body that issues patents in the People’s Republic of China. It issues three types of patents in China: invention patents, utility model patents, and design patents. While invention patents receive the most scrutiny,, utility model and design usually receive only a formal examination before granted.
Trademark law is administered through the China Trade Mark Office. The State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC) helps oversee trademarks in China at a regional and provincial level. In addition, the Chinese Trademark Registration Certificate indicates that a Chinese company has an officially-registered and authorized trademark on its products. A verified document ensures that the company has the clearance to use the trademark and that its intellectual property remains protected.
As with all official registrations in China, it’s important to conduct research and due diligence to ensure that a patent or a trademark is both legitimate and valid. While there are some initial steps you can take yourself to certify the authenticity of a Chinese document, partnering with Nuna Network can help you take the required steps to ensure that the patent or trademark in question is a legitimate designation for the product or service with which it is associated.
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