Understanding Intellectual Property Protection – China Trademark Part 2

Foreign companies are advised to consider to get their Intellectual Property rights protected before entering into the China Market. As China works via “First to File” and not “First to Use” system. 


The Nice Classification System

China adopted an international system for categorising goods and services into appropriate classes. The system called the Nice Classification of Goods and Services (Nice Classification). Nice Classification separates all possible goods and services into 45 classes: 34 classes for goods and 11 classes for services. The classification was first established in 1957 by the Nice Agreement Concerning the International Classification of Goods and Services for the Purposes of the Registration of Marks, and is administered by the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO).

Sub-class system in China

China Trademark office does not totally copy the Nice Classification. However, China Trademark office uses Nice Classification as the basis and make a unique Book on Classification of Similar Goods and Services for Chinese examiner’s reference. The book added unlisted Chinese common goods and services and subclasses within each of the 45 classes. The subclasses are further designed according to the similarity of the goods and services in China. In most cases, the goods or the services falling in different subclasses are not regarding as similar. It means the similar or identical trademarks can be registered within the same class because their specifications may fall in different subclasses.

For example, clothing under Nice Classification belongs to class 25. You may think both footwear and headgear are clothing and should belong to class 25. However, they have difference subclass in China. Footwear is under subclass 2507 while headgear under subclass 2508. You can see the classification system is more rigorous. 

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