Trademark and Brand Management

China trademark and brand management

One of the most important decisions a new, changing or existing business can make is to choose a unique name or brand.  This is so consumers can quickly identify the source of particular goods or services.   This unique name should be protected by China trademark law.  In fact, trademarks can often be some of the most valuable intellectual property a company or business can own.  Because trademarks can be so important we advise our clients to carefully choose a name or brand that provides the best legal protection under the China trademark law.  

A trademark is a word, phrase, symbol or design, or a combination of words, phrases, symbols or designs, that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods.

We help our clients to safeguard their business interests by prosecuting and enforcing trademarks and domain names registrations, developing brand name strategies and managing trademark portfolios. On behalf of our clients, we negotiate trademark deals related to merger and acquisitions, and assist them with transferring ownership of domain name registrations.

We offer a wide array of trademark services, including branding advice, selection of marks, prosecuting trademark applications at the China Patent and Trademark Office, the practice of international trademark law, and conducting availability searches.  We also have experience in opposition and cancellation proceedings before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board at the Patent and Trademark Office and have successfully settled disputes among trademark owners and applicants.

Trademarks and brand strategy

Reflecting on 2016, we can separate Our Firm’s trademark practice into three categories:

1.Searching and trademarking a name or a logo (very straightforward and cost efficient),

2.Fixing the filing of a trademark that the entity screwed up by filing without the assistance of counsel (somewhat straightforward to trademark attorneys but not very cost efficient), and

3.Doing general business structure work where I discover that the organization has done nothing to protect their brand and that there most likely are trademark complications that are going to require them to rebrand or aggressively carve out the brand. 

What is brand strategy?

The most efficient companies we work with have a brand strategy. If you sell anything to anyone, you have a brand. Brand strategy encompasses the how, what, where, and to whom you plan to brand/market your services to. Trademarking involves how you are going to formally protect that brand strategy.

Clearly articulating brand is important because it:

  •  Encapsulates company reputation in very few words/images.
  •  Distinguishes competitive goods.
  •  Signifies the consistent quality of those goods or services to consumers.

So, for example, if a company invented the next great search engine and branded it Best Search Product, that company is not effectively branding because the brand is confusing, lengthy and non-distinguishable. Compare that to Google, Yahoo or Porsche, all which create an immediate, consistent brand image in most user’s minds through a combination of look and feel, logos and naming.

Virtually no trademark exists in only one country. Brand management has become a global matter. Our China trademark lawyer’s team of experienced attorneys is dedicated to assisting clients in all aspects of brand management and in all regions of the world. Our services include worldwide trademark availability searches, trademark applications for registration, and related licensing and litigation. Our attorneys advise clients on brand strategies and conduct due diligence in mergers and acquisitions. Our attorneys have considerable experience representing Fortune 500 companies in trademark oppositions and cancellations before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board of the China Patent and Trademark Office and, through our extensive network of foreign associates, before similar governmental offices and agencies in other countries. Our Firm’s trademark attorneys are well experienced in policing and enforcing trademarks, when need be, against infringers, counterfeiters, and cybersquatters. In addition, the attorneys in our Litigation department handle cases involving trademark infringement and related claims. View a description of our trademark trial practice at Intellectual Property Litigation. Our attorneys are prepared to handle all legal aspects of clients’ trademarks and to assist in the management of clients’ brands.

Mapping and protecting brand

We find it really important to map out brand comprehensively, and revisit the branding as companies grow. It can be as easy as mapping out strategy on a piece of paper using the four-tier approach. It can also be as complicated as hiring a brand manager who manages all of various brand assets.

One of our favorite aspects of my practice is to help entrepreneurs manage brand. The first step is a brand management plan to protect intellectual property. Unprotected brands are easy to steal and exploit. Steps include:

  •  Clearing brand through a trademark search so clients do not spend significant resources on a brand that may already have been taken
  •  Registering and maintaining those marks.
  •  Creating branding guidelines for employees and third parties.
  •  Protecting trademarks against counterfeiting and gray market activities.
  •  Policing brands.
  •  Managing internet domain names.
  •  Creating revenue opportunities through trademark licensing.

Remember that brands create significant value for those willing to invest in them. Efficient entrepreneurs plan early, spend less, and effectuate significant economic outcomes. Contact our China trademark lawyer for free preliminary consultation if you have any trademark and brand management related issue in China.