The General Administration of Customs (GAC) is a centralised administration (all ports are under the direct control of the national administration, unlike other enforcement authorities, who are placed under the control of the local governments. The Customs authorities apply their control at the border, to merchandise coming in but also to merchandise going out. This is very useful to stop containers of infringing goods from leaving the country.
Recordal of the trademark is not a pre‐requisite, but it is highly recommended.
Without recordal, the Customs may still take action and detain goods, provided a specific request has been filed beforehand by the trademark owner, with all necessary factual information. The trademark owner needs to file whatever legal action is necessary within 20 working days following the notification of the detention of the goods.
Without recordal, Customs cannot take any initiative to detain suspicious goods, and the trademark owner misses many chances to stop counterfeits being exported.
On the other hand, if the trademark owner takes the precaution to record the trademark with the GAC, then the GAC may decide to withhold (for three days) a batch of suspicious goods. During that period, the trademark owner is notified and may apply for the detention of the goods. Customs may come to the direct conclusion that the goods are indeed counterfeit, and proceed with confiscation and apply a fine. In case of doubt, they notify the trademark owner who may start a legal action, in order to keep the goods under control.
The recordal is easy to make. It can be done online or by mail, to the Central office of the Customs. Documents required include
- A copy of the business registration certificate
- A copy of the trademark certificate
- Information regarding related licences (Customs do not want to withhold legitimate goods), photos of the goods and their packaging
- Any evidence relating to particular infringements
- A power of attorney in the name of the trademark agent responsible for the recordal process,
- A fee of 800 RMB.
Once the trademark is recorded, the owner should bear in mind that the efficiency and determination of the Customs officers can be greatly encouraged if the trademark owner maintains a close working relationship with the officers, making sure they promptly respond to their notifications and provides adequate training to help them in identifying fake goods.