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Thursday, October 17, 2013

Exporting Wine to China Seminar Report - Part I

Dickenson, Peatman & Fogarty attorney Katja Loeffelholz, a registered attorney with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, recently presented at The Seminar Group’s “Exporting Wine to China” program on “Protecting Intellectual Property.”  

 

China represents the single largest growth opportunity for wine producing countries around the world.  China is a brand driven market.  So what are the challenges in protecting intellectual property in China?  

 

One of the principal difficulties of protecting intellectual property in China is the failure of U.S. wine brand owners to register their trademarks in China.  Sometimes the failure to register stems from the mistaken belief that a U.S. registration protects them abroad, or the belief that registration in China is expensive and time consuming.  For others still, business or wine exports may be expanding so rapidly that they unintentionally expose to themselves to risk by postponing registration.

 

China’s Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress has passed new trademark law provisions that should improve a trademark owner’s ability to enforce their rights and deter infringers.  The new law provides for an increase in statutory damages.  Where the infringer is believed to have acted in bad faith, the courts may also award treble damages.  These revisions to the law will serve as a deterrent to infringers while signaling to the rest of the world that China will not tolerate a violation of trademark rights.  

 

However, a U.S. wine brand owner will be unable to take full advantage of the provisions of the new China trademark law unless and until it registers its mark in China.  There are essentially two ways for a U.S. company to obtain trademark registration in China.  The first is to have its trademark counsel file the trademark application directly in China working with foreign counsel.  The second is to use its U.S. trademark registration as a basis for submitting an International Registration with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.  It should be noted that a trademark registration in the People’s Republic of China will not provide trademark protection in Hong Kong or Macau.  Separate applications will need to be made.

 

For more information on how you can secure trademark rights in the U.S. and abroad, please contact Katja Loeffelholz at kl@dpf-law.com. To obtain a copy of Ms. Loeffelholz's presentation “Protecting Intellectual Property” presented at the “Exporting Wine to China” conference please visit www.TheSeminarGroup.net 

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