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Manage your Intellectual Property in Mainland China, HongKong, Macao and Taiwan

Helpdesk Guides


The following Helpdesk publications provide a range of expert-written guides, factsheets and precsentations that assist businesses in understanding the IP landscape in China.



General IPR

Guide on Arbitration and IP for EU SMEs New
Imagine a situation that you signed a licensing agreement with your Chinese business partner. At the beginning, all looks very promising, but after a few months, your business partner is not paying due fees for the use of the license. You are sending emails to urge the other party to pay immediately. That is, however, unsuccessful. You wonder what step to take next, and it seems that the only way is to go to a Chinese court to resolve this dispute. Yet, that does not have to be the only way to resolve your IP related disputes. This Guide introduces you to the use of an alternative way, arbitration, in the context of IP-related disputes with China.

Joint International Helpdesks Trade Fair Guide – Protecting your IP at Trade Fairs New
This guide provides an overview of Intellectual Property (IP) protection strategy for EU SMEs specifically on how to be ready before, during and after a trade fair or exhibition in China, South-East Asia and Latin-America. With the advent of increasingly integrated global-value chains and the continuous drive to innovate, trade fairs have become one of the most important and most efficient instruments for accessing new markets worldwide. Although attending a trade fair or exhibition can reap substantial benefits, SMEs should be aware of the possible IP risks that are implied. This guide will provide you with a concrete understanding of all you need to know on this topic.

Guide to New Varieties of Plant in China 
New variety of plant (NVP), refers to improved plant varieties, cultivated or developed from wild plants discovered by breeders, which possess novelty, distinctness, uniformity and stability, as well as an adequate denomination. To acknowledge the special efforts and achievements made by the breeders in developing new varieties for agriculture, horticulture and forestry, the protection of NVP entitles the plant breeders the exclusive rights to use the variety for commercial use.

Guide to Copyrights in China
A copyright protects intangible original intellectual creations in the fields of literature, art or science that can be reproduced in a tangible form from being reproduced without the permission of the copyright holder. Unlike trademarks and patents, registration of copyrights is not compulsory in order to obtain protection, but can help in proving the ownership of the copyright in the case of infringement. Download the full guide to learn more.

Design patent guide
An unregistered design in China is at risk of having no protection, however a design patent provides the holder with exclusive use of that design for a period of 10 years. This guide offers a comprehensive overview of design patents and a further step-by-step guide on how to register and enforce it.

Guide to Geographic Indications in China
Champagne’ sounds better tasting than ’sparkling wine’, doesn’t it? What about ’Bordeaux wine’, ’Parma ham’ and ’Roquefort cheese’? You can practically taste them, right? Such specific origins that create an association with a product’s quality, reputation or other characteristics are called Geographical Indications(GIs). The market for imported foods in China is large and growing. If you intend to export products that come from a specific geographical region to China, obtaining a GI registration can provide the necessary proof of the product’s origin and can increase trust from domestic consumers. This guide will take you through the necessary steps in registering your GI.

Guide to Patent Protection in China
Until you register a Patent in China, you do not own that right, meaning that applying for a trademark before entering the China market is of utmost importance. This guide walks you through an overview of trademarks, how to apply for them and how to enforce your rights in case of an infringement.

Guide to Trade Mark Protection in China 
Until you register a trademark in China, you do not own that right, meaning that applying for a trademark before entering the China market is of utmost importance. This guide walks you through an overview of trademarks, how to apply for them and how to enforce your rights in case of an infringement.

Guide to Protecting Your Trade Secrets in China 
A trade secret is any non-public information with actual or potential commercial value that is guarded by confidentiality measures. Trade secrets can ensure business advantage over competitors but must remain secret – once a trade secret becomes publicly known, it can no longer be protected as a trade secret. Most theft of trade secrets cases involve current or former employees. Download the full guide to learn more.

Horizontal issues

Compliance with Cyber Security Law and IP Protection New
The Cyber Security Law of China (CSL) entered into force in 2016. It has significant implications with regards to data privacy and data transfer for EU SMEs doing business in China. This guide provides you with an overview of the CSL, its implications to data privacy and IP protection and offers SMEs tips on how to effectively protect their IP.

Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights in China 
The intellectual property rights (IPR) available in China are very similar to those available in Europe. Assuming you have registered your IP and found it being infringed then you will want to enforce it. How will you find it being infringed? Your customers might tell you about competing products, you might find infringements for sale on the internet, you might see infringing products at a trade fair.
This guide gives you an overview of what steps you should take once you have gathered sufficient information and decided to take action and enforce your IPR rights in China.

Protection of Online IPR in China - Domain Names
While the internet can be a profitable business platform for European SMEs – particularly in China where internet usage grows annually – it also provides an increasingly easy way for infringers to sell counterfeit goods and commit fraud. This guide outlines the domain name risks faced by European SMEs conducting business in China and provides a comprehensive overview of ways to mitigate against and respond to domain name infringement if, or when, it occurs. Practical guidance is offered on how to register a domain name, ways to resolve a domain name dispute and how to build a domain name strategy for your company.

Guide to Using Contracts to Protect your Intellectual Property Rights in China 
Tailoring contracts to suit your IPR is an important way to ensure that your company's specific intellectual property assets are adequately protected. This guide outlines some key contract provisions that you need to include in your agreements, important clauses that must not be used in China (because they could be in contravention of the Chinese laws thus rendering the contract void), how to protect confidential information through contracts, and protecting the ownership of new IP created in China). It contains a sample Non-Disclosure Agreement.

Guide to R&D in China for European SMEs
Many European SMEs may not consider that they conduct any R&D in China because they do not have a laboratory or research facility there, but in reality, a high proportion of these companies engage in activities which fall under at least one of the terms: research or development. This guide outlines how to develop your IP strategy before conducting R&D in China, taking into account licensing for R&D contracts, defining ownership of new IP created, and developing a valuable IP portfolio in China. Download the full guide to learn more.

Intellectual Property Systems: China / Europe Comparison 
There are several key differences between Chinese and European IP laws which are important to understand in order to efficiently manage your intellectual property in China. This short document gives a broad comparison between the Chinese and European IP systems, and highlights some of the main differences and similarities you need to be aware of.

Technology Transfer to China: Guidance for Businesses
Many European companies are willing to transfer their latest technology to Chinese subsidiaries of European firms and joint venture partners, exposing themselves to potential loss of competitiveness and IP risk. This publication provides an overview of common situations encountered by European firms in China and a checklist of how to effectively protect your business secrets.

Guide to Using Customs to Protect Your IPR in China
Unlike Europe, China has both imports and exports customs, which has the authority to seize IP infringing goods. Learn how to work with Chinese customs to protect your IPR and prohibit infringing goods from entering or leaving the country.

Finding the Right Lawyer
This guide is currently being updated: Hiring a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely upon advertisements or recommendations. An experienced and capable lawyer could not only strengthen your business's IPR strategy but also effectively assist you in enforcing your IPR rights against infringers. This guide walks you through the process of hiring the right lawyer for your needs.

IP Strategy for European SMEs at Trade Fairs in China 
Trade fairs represent an opportunity to promote your products in China but also expose your IP to potential infringers. This handbook provides a step-by-step guide to intellectual property strategy and protection before, during and after a trade fair or an exhibition in China.

Managing IP as a Business Asset
Businesses that actively manage their IP as a financial asset outperform their peers by up to 30%. The most significant group of intangible assets are those protected by intellectual property such as inventions, designs and brands. Click here to download your 'Managing IP as a Business Asset Guide'.

How to guides

Joint International Helpdesks Guide - How to Internationally Protect Your Trade Mark through the Madrid System New
The ‘Madrid system for the international registration of trade marks’ is a cost-effective solution for registering trade marks worldwide. The system is administered by the International Bureau of the WIPO and allows trade mark owners to protect their marks in several countries by filing one application and obtaining an international registration that takes effect in each of the designated contracting parties. This guide will give you an overview about how the system works and what are the advantages and disadvantages. 

How to File a Copyright Registration in China 
Is copyright registration necessary in order to enforce it in China? Technically, the answer is no. Copyright is an automatic right, which means the author or creator enjoys the copyright as soon as the original work is completed. Unlike other territorial IP rights, such as trade mark or patent, foreigners copyright is automatically protected in China, as long as the author is from a member state or district of the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, which Member States of the European Union are.

How to Remove Counterfeit Products from E-commerce websites 
The internet has become a popular and easy channel for product distribution around the world. It has created a marketplace of around 700 million internet users in China, and is still expanding. Apart from being a forum for legitimate vendors and original products, the internet is also used by illegal and unscrupulous businesses as a platform for the distribution of counterfeit goods which infringe intellectual property rights (IPR).

How to Record IPR with Customs in China 
Unlike European customs authorities which only focus on imported goods, the Chinese customs also examines goods leaving China and has the authority to protect intellectual property rights (IPR) by seizing infringing goods. Per the annual report published by the General Administration of Customs in China (GACC) in 2014, Chinese customs detained 23,019 consignments of suspected infringing products preventing them from being sold in external markets.

How to Identify and Handle IP Scams 
With more and more European SMEs having awareness of the importance of intellectual property (IP) and the necessity of IP registration in China, their needs of IP services is increasingly growing. As stated in China’s IP laws , foreigners need to hire local Chinese agencies to file for registration of IP rights and attend to other trade mark or patent related matters such as prosecution, invalidation, renewal etc.

How to Secure Effective Evidence at Trade Fairs 
For many European SMEs, exhibiting at a major trade fair in China may be the first step towards internationalisation. However, as well as providing business opportunities, trade fairs also pose risks for exhibitors by exposing new products, technology, designs and brands to those who would copy the efforts of others for their own financial gain. This step-by-step provides you with practical advice on how to collect evidence of IP infringements at trade fairs in China.

How to Find an Intellectual Property Agent
This edition of the China IPR SME Helpdesk ‘How to’ guide series give you practical, step-by step information on the necessity of working with an IP agent in China, shows you how to use the CTMO database and gives you advice on how to find a suitable agent for your needs.

How to Search for Basic Chinese Company Information to Protect Your IP
When establishing business operations in China, finding local business partners and customers can be a major task. As well as the challenge of reaching out to a new business community, how can you have confidence in the honesty of your potential partners? How can you check that the company really has the scope and capabilities claimed? If you find out that your intellectual property in China has been infringed how can you start to research the infringer? This How-to guide will give you practical guidance on these issues.

How to Record Trade Marks with Customs in China
Unlike European customs authorities which only focus on imported goods, the General Administration of Customs in China (GACC) also examines goods leaving China and has the authority to protect intellectual property rights (IPR) by seizing infringing goods. This document is a step by step guide on how to register your IP online using the GACC platform.

How to Establish an EU-China Joint Research Structure
This brochure presents the main practical steps to set up a Joint Research Structure within the Chinese legal framework, highlighting key issues to pay attention to before establishing such a structure.

How to Conduct a Trade Mark Search
Every company, no matter how big or small, has some IP. The most common type of intellectual property right (IPR) is a trade mark. A trade mark is essential to all kinds of companies, whether you are a producer, distributor or service provider, as it allows clients to distinguish you from your competitors and builds the image and reputation of your brand. Before you apply to register your trade mark in China you should check that it is available and has not been previously registered by another company, or is too similar to any other registered trade mark. This step will prevent you spending resources on an application which will be rejected and could delay your business operations in China.
This guide is designed to Help you understand how to conduct a trade mark search on your own.

Industry Specific

IP Strategies for EU Clean-tech SMEs in China  New
With a large potential clean technology market, and strong government support for the development and adoption of new clean technologies, China presents great opportunities for European cleantech SMEs. However, as the market becomes increasingly competitive, strategically managing, protecting and leveraging IP becomes even more essential. Understanding how IP fits into the overall strategy of your business in China can lead to more opportunities and conserve competitiveness. Download this guide to learn more.

Industry 4.0 and IP Protection  New
Industry 4.0 technologies are transforming economies, jobs and even the society itself. The Chinese market is also affected by this change as the government plans to upgrade th manufacturing capacity of the Chinese industry into a technology powerhouse. Applying the traditional concept of IP to these new technologies can be difficult; this guide provides more information on how to protect and exploit IP for SMEs engaging in industry 4.0 techonolgies in China, including creation, registration and management of an IP portfolio.

IPR Protection for the Gaming Industry in China  New
China’s gaming industry enjoyed a tenfold increase in revenue between 2008 and 2017, becoming the world’s largest gaming market in 2018. As a result, European SMEs are increasingly interested in expanding to China, although IPR infringements still represent a major concern. This guide provides an overview of IP protection in game development, helping EU SMEs deploy a comprehensive IP strategy when doing business with China.

IPR Protection for AI Technology & Application of Blockchain in China  New
Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Blockchain are among the most important and potentially revoultionary technological advancements of the 21st century, playing a major role in industries ranging from automated driving to language and speech recognition. This guide provides European SMEs with knowledge on how AI  is protected by IP laws in China, outlining how to protect data through copyright, patent and trade secrets. It also gives an overview of legal opportunities provided by blockchain, and the use of blockchain in Chinese courts. 

Guide for IPR Protection in China for the Pharmaceutical Industry 
Pharmaceutical production is a research and development (R&D) driven industry. The potential and profit of pharmaceutical companies are very dependent on the adequate protection of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR). IP is the most effective way to protect R&D and is a powerful weapon to use in the pharmaceutical market in China. This guide will focus on the principal IPR issues/provisions in the field of pharmaceuticals, namely in the areas of patent, trademark, copyright, and technical secrets.

Guide to IPR Protection in China for the Furniture Industry 
In recent years, China has been transforming from a “world furniture factory” to a “world furniture market”. For European SMEs interested in expanding abroad, this guide will form a perfect basis for everything they need to know in this developing industry.

Guide to IPR Protection in China for the Cosmetics Industry 
In recent years, due to the expansion of China’s middle class, increased interest in personal care has led to the rapid development of the cosmetics industry. In addition, the adjustment of the tariff system in China and the rise of e-commerce platforms such as Taobao, Jindong contributed to the sales of cosmetics products. The industry shows an annual growth of 12% and broke the RMB 200 billion mark of sales volume for the very first time in 2015.

Guide to IPR Protection in China for the Wine and Spirits Sector 
Many EU SMEs are active in the wine and spirits industry. China has a thirst for EU wines and spirits, and with a market of nearly 1.4 billion people it has great potential for EU SMEs.

Guide to IPR Protection in China for the OEM Industry
The term Original Equipment Manufacturer ("OEM") designates a company that only makes a part of a product, or a subsystem, to be used in another company's end product. By extension, OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturing) also designates the agreement whereby one company commissions another to manufacture products according to certain specifications and to affix a trade mark on such products; the said products are delivered to the commissioner who sells them in the market under his own name. The letters "OEM" therefore designate both the manufacturer and the act of commissioning the manufacture of a finished product to a third party.

China IPR SME Helpdesk Guide to IPR Protection in China for Mechanical Engineering
The mechanical engineering sector presents some unique challenges when it comes to IPR protection in China, and requires a proactive approach and a continuing IPR strategy well after registration has taken place. Along with the usual issues of brand infringement, unauthorised use of trademarks and counterfeiting of copyrighted promotional material, manufacturers also have to consider the infringement of their patents, whether this be an entire machine or individual parts or mechanisms. Counterfeiting of components and whole pieces of machinery has been a common complaint of companies operating in this sector in China, and is made possible due to the presence of a skilled, experienced work force and the use of reverse engineering. This guide addresses these IP issues and provides EU SMEs with advice on how to avoid, identify or enforce rights against potential infringement.

China IPR SME Helpdesk Guide China IPR Considerations for European Businesses in the ICT Industries
While some IPR issues are common to all types of European companies doing business in China, others are specific to the ICT industries. Such industry-specific issues include software protection by patents and standard essential patents. This Guide focuses on the top IPR issues for European ICT businesses in China, including developing a patent and trade mark strategy as well as enforcement of IPR.

China IPR Guide for European SMEs in the Automotive Industry
This tailored IPR guide for SMEs in the Automotive Industry covers the aspects of IPR most relevant to your business and how you can protect them.

Guide to IPR Protection in China for the Creative Industries
China's rapidly expanding consumer market creates both opportunities and challenges for European businesses in creative industries. Ideas and designs are the lifeblood of creative businesses and infringement can be particularly costly and damaging. However, creative ideas and designs that are not adequately protected often fall victim to infringement by potential Chinese clients or Chinese competitors. Download the full guide to learn more.

Guide to IPR Protection in China for the Food & Beverage Industry
China’s rapid growth has stimulated a taste for imported food and beverage (F&B) products among its consumers. Due to their reputation for quality, European F&B products (notably wine and spirits) are often the target of Chinese counterfeiters. It is therefore very important that European SMEs importing F&B to China take proactive measures to safeguard their intellectual property rights (IPR). This involves: understanding the Chinese trade mark system and the importance of registering both a European and a Chinese trade mark; protecting packaging styles using design patents; ensuring that copyrights are registered where required, and guarding trade secrets. This guide provides an overview of IPR issues that should be borne in mind in China, specifically in the F&B industry.

China IPR Guide for European SMEs in the Ceramics Industry
This tailored IPR guide for SMEs in the ceramics industry covers the aspects of IPR most relevant to your business and how you can protect them.

Guideline on Medical Device Industry IPR Protection in China
This guide takes a practical look at IPR protection and enforcement in China with a particular emphasis on issues for SMEs in the medical device industry.

Guide to IPR Protection in China for the Fashion and Design Industry
Europe’s fashion industry is worth billions of Euros every year. The fashion industry encompasses the design, manufacturing, distribution, retailing, marketing and promotion of clothing, footwear and accessories. China represents opportunities as a manufacturing hub and a maturing consumer market, but presents risks in the form of counterfeiting. This guide takes a practical look at the most relevant intellectual property rights (IPR) for the fashion industry in China, examining protection and enforcement measures that can be taken by EU SMEs.

Guide to IPR Protection in China for the Textile Industry
China's textile industry is both an opportunity and threat to European businesses. It is a major market for those supplying production technologies and a key supply base for textiles and finished goods. This guide addresses IP issues across subsectors of the textile industry, including textile machinery, yarns and specialty fabrics, finished fabrics and brand apparel & accessories. The areas of IP most relevant to the above sectors will be discussed, as well as smaller IP issues specifically affecting makers of brand apparel & accessories.