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EU vs. China - a Comparison of the Protection of Trademarks

Norborg, Johanna LU (2012) JURM02 20121
Department of Law
Abstract
In an era where Sino-European trade is increasing rapidly, the number of legal disputes is on the rise. There are few things as frightening as operating in an unfamiliar environment. For this reason, this thesis examines and compares the systems of trademark law and protection in the EU and China, with special regard to problems commonly encountered by western
commercial actors in their entrance onto the Chinese market.

Analyses and comparisons of the trademark systems in the EU and China reveal comprehensive legal frameworks in both areas designed to boost the protection of trademarks in congruence with global standards. In this regard, the relevant EU legislation is more refined than that of China, as expected from the difference in... (More)
In an era where Sino-European trade is increasing rapidly, the number of legal disputes is on the rise. There are few things as frightening as operating in an unfamiliar environment. For this reason, this thesis examines and compares the systems of trademark law and protection in the EU and China, with special regard to problems commonly encountered by western
commercial actors in their entrance onto the Chinese market.

Analyses and comparisons of the trademark systems in the EU and China reveal comprehensive legal frameworks in both areas designed to boost the protection of trademarks in congruence with global standards. In this regard, the relevant EU legislation is more refined than that of China, as expected from the difference in history and economic development between the two areas. For the same reasons, Chinese rules on trademarks are significantly younger than those of the EU, as well as persistently subject to amendments, causing a greater need for attentiveness toward its development. In spite of this central dissimilarity, with the Chinese trademark law’s characteristic of being legally transplanted from the West, the majority of the main principles of trademark protection are equivalent in China and the EU. Registrations are subject to the same duration and effects, and both areas apply the first to file principle. Both areas share the problems of enforcing the trademark protection regime efficiently. An estimation of the damages caused by trademark infringements is difficult to approximate, thus sanctions seldom reflect the real detriments of an infringement. While China is experiencing further obstacles concerning this field, due to local protectionism combined with a cultural reluctance to respect IPR in general, the differing national legislations in the EU result in territorial inconsistencies and uncertainties.

To summarize, in the entry strategy of a company looking to expand to China, this thesis suggests that important differences, such as the effects of language barrier, the lack of judicial independence, the scope of registrable subject matter, the significance of guanxi, a tighter requirement of use concerning registered trademarks, and the different options of dealing with infringements, need to be considered. It is also advisable to apply for registration prior to the actual entry to the market, in order to prevent trademark squatting. Additionally, due to the rapid and ongoing developments taking place in Chinese trademark legislation and its strong interaction with other parts of the society such as economy and politics, there is a continuous need of keeping an updated awareness of the current shape of the legal framework as well as being attentive toward its development. (Less)
Abstract (Swedish)
I en tid där den sino-europeiska handeln ökar snabbt, stiger även antalet juridiska tvister. Det finns få saker som är så skrämmande som att funktionera i en obekant miljö. Med anledning av detta undersöker och jämför denna uppsats varumärkeslagstiftningen och –skydden i EU och Kina, med särskild hänsyn till de problem som västerländska kommersiella aktörer förväntas bemöta i samband med inträde på den kinesiska marknaden.

Analyser och komparationer av de rådande varumärkessystemen i EU och Kina visar att båda områden har inrättat omfattande juridiska regelverk med syfte att öka skyddet av varumärken i enlighet med internationell standard. I detta hänseende är den relevanta lagstiftningen i EU mer förfinad än den i Kina, vilket är... (More)
I en tid där den sino-europeiska handeln ökar snabbt, stiger även antalet juridiska tvister. Det finns få saker som är så skrämmande som att funktionera i en obekant miljö. Med anledning av detta undersöker och jämför denna uppsats varumärkeslagstiftningen och –skydden i EU och Kina, med särskild hänsyn till de problem som västerländska kommersiella aktörer förväntas bemöta i samband med inträde på den kinesiska marknaden.

Analyser och komparationer av de rådande varumärkessystemen i EU och Kina visar att båda områden har inrättat omfattande juridiska regelverk med syfte att öka skyddet av varumärken i enlighet med internationell standard. I detta hänseende är den relevanta lagstiftningen i EU mer förfinad än den i Kina, vilket är förväntat till följd av olikheter i historisk och ekonomisk utveckling mellan de två områdena. Av samma skäl är kinesiska varumärkesregler markant yngre än de i EU samt ständigt föremål för ändringar, vilket medför ett större behov av uppmärksamhet gentemot dess utveckling och rådande status. Trots denna centrala skillnad innebär den kinesiska lagens ursprung som juridisk transplantation från västvärlden att majoriteten av de viktiga principer som präglar varumärkesskydd är likvärdiga i Kina och EU. Registreringar varar lika länge och har samma effekt, dessutom präglas båda områden av ’first to file’-principen. Båda områdena präglas dessutom av problematik gällande effektiv efterlevnad av skyddsregimen. Skador resulterande från varumärkesintrång är svåra att estimera, vilket medför att sanktioner som utdöms sällan reflekterar skadornas reella omfattning. Medan Kina upplever ytterligare svårigheter inom detta område på grund av lokal protektionism kombinerat med en kulturell ovilja att respektera immaterialrättigheter i allmänhet, resulterar skillnader i nationell lagstiftning inom EU i olikheter och osäkerheter mellan länderna.

Sammanfattningsvis föreslår denna uppsats att europeiska företag som vill expandera till Kina i sin inträdesstrategi bör ta hänsyn till viktiga skillnader inom varumärkesskydd, såsom effekterna av språkbarriärer, bristen av ett självständigt rättsväsende, vilka varumärken som är registrerbara, betydelsen av ’guanxi’, ett kraftigare användningskrav beträffande registrerade varumärken, samt de olika alternativ som finns för att hantera skyddsintrång. Det är även klokt att ansöka om registrering redan innan det faktiska inträdet på marknaden sker. Till följd av den snabba och ständiga utveckling som sker inom kinesisk varumärkesrätt och rättsområdets starka samband med andra delar av samhället såsom ekonomi och politik, fordras kontinuerligt en uppdaterad kunskap om varumärkesskyddets rådande utformning och en ökad uppmärksamhet mot dess utveckling. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
Norborg, Johanna LU
supervisor
organization
course
JURM02 20121
year
type
H3 - Professional qualifications (4 Years - )
subject
keywords
Intellectual Property Rights, Trademarks, China, EU
language
English
id
2733968
date added to LUP
2012-10-15 11:51:29
date last changed
2012-10-15 11:51:29
@misc{2733968,
  abstract     = {In an era where Sino-European trade is increasing rapidly, the number of legal disputes is on the rise. There are few things as frightening as operating in an unfamiliar environment. For this reason, this thesis examines and compares the systems of trademark law and protection in the EU and China, with special regard to problems commonly encountered by western
commercial actors in their entrance onto the Chinese market.

Analyses and comparisons of the trademark systems in the EU and China reveal comprehensive legal frameworks in both areas designed to boost the protection of trademarks in congruence with global standards. In this regard, the relevant EU legislation is more refined than that of China, as expected from the difference in history and economic development between the two areas. For the same reasons, Chinese rules on trademarks are significantly younger than those of the EU, as well as persistently subject to amendments, causing a greater need for attentiveness toward its development. In spite of this central dissimilarity, with the Chinese trademark law’s characteristic of being legally transplanted from the West, the majority of the main principles of trademark protection are equivalent in China and the EU. Registrations are subject to the same duration and effects, and both areas apply the first to file principle. Both areas share the problems of enforcing the trademark protection regime efficiently. An estimation of the damages caused by trademark infringements is difficult to approximate, thus sanctions seldom reflect the real detriments of an infringement. While China is experiencing further obstacles concerning this field, due to local protectionism combined with a cultural reluctance to respect IPR in general, the differing national legislations in the EU result in territorial inconsistencies and uncertainties. 

To summarize, in the entry strategy of a company looking to expand to China, this thesis suggests that important differences, such as the effects of language barrier, the lack of judicial independence, the scope of registrable subject matter, the significance of guanxi, a tighter requirement of use concerning registered trademarks, and the different options of dealing with infringements, need to be considered. It is also advisable to apply for registration prior to the actual entry to the market, in order to prevent trademark squatting. Additionally, due to the rapid and ongoing developments taking place in Chinese trademark legislation and its strong interaction with other parts of the society such as economy and politics, there is a continuous need of keeping an updated awareness of the current shape of the legal framework as well as being attentive toward its development.},
  author       = {Norborg, Johanna},
  keyword      = {Intellectual Property Rights,Trademarks,China,EU},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {EU vs. China - a Comparison of the Protection of Trademarks},
  year         = {2012},
}