All You Need to Know About Registering Trademarks in Hong Kong
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The vast majority of countries today have strict laws when it comes to intellectual property. China and the region of Hong Kong are no different.
Intellectual property rights are something that is protected all over the globe and there are some very important reasons why that is the case.
First of all, these rights ensure that the right incentive is provided to the individual for their creations. This also provides due recognition to the creators and ensures they receive every reward that may come later.
But most importantly, intellectual property rights ensure that no other individual dares steal or misuse the already registered product. Hong Kong authorities are well aware that intellectual property protection plays a critical role when it comes to fostering innovation. With no protection of ideas, businesses (and individuals) would reap little to no benefits for their inventions. So, without further ado, let’s see how Hong Kong deals with these laws and those who try to circumvent them.
- What is a trademark?
- How do I register a trademark?
- What is the process of trademarking?
- How do you know if something is trademarked?
Definition of trademarks in Hong Kong
Trademarks are signs that help your customers identify your products and services. This is crucial since every entrepreneur knows that distinguishing them from a competitor is the key to success. In other words, this is what sets one’s products apart from the rest and also creates a unique brand image.
In general, a trademark can be made of words (including personal names, for instance), indications, designs, letters, characters, numerals, figurative elements, colors, sounds, smells, the shape of the products or even their packaging.
This sign has to be capable of being represented graphically in order for it to be registered and accepted as a trademark. In turn, the recognition of your own trademark by customers means that you can build your business reputation through the distinctive identity of your products.
It also helps to generate repeat business since your customers will want to buy the product they are familiar with.
What can be registered as a trademark?
To register a trademark, you have to come up with something unique and distinctive. This can include all types of signs, marks, words, phrases, graphics, symbols, and other indications. You can also combine these and make your own trademark.
Just know that whatever you select, you have to be unique. In other words, if someone else has registered the same trademark, you will have to find an alternative. To make this process easier for you, take a look at the list and see what exactly can be trademarked:
- Word or a combination of words (Apple, Samsung, etc.)
- Logo or a device (Nike’s tick symbol, for instance)
- Sound (music jingles)
- 3D shapes
- Image (such as Coca-Cola logo)
- Your own invented word
- Combination of colors or sometimes even a single color combined with a word or device
- The shape of goods or their packaging
Also, it is worth noting that a number of individuals have the misconception that an idea can be trademarked. You need to know that, unfortunately, an idea cannot be trademarked.
Additionally, the trademark does not have to be in prior use. This is not a prerequisite for filing an application for its trade mark registration.
How do I register a trademark in Hong Kong?
Before you apply to register a trademark, it is necessary to find out if someone else has already registered or has applied to register the same or similar trademark.
The Trademark Registry Hong Kong is very helpful since it offers Search and Preliminary Advice services to those wanting to obtain information on trademarks from the official records.
Once you do that, you have to pay the application fee for the registration of a trademark. The price stands at HK$2,000. However, there is an additional cost of HK$1,00 per additional class of goods or services, if there are any.
Once you have conducted a trademark search and filled in your application form (Form T2), you need to provide a graphic representation of your trademark and attach the proof of the covered fees.
Finally, submit your application and send it to the following address.
Trade Marks Registry
Intellectual Property Department
24/F, Wu Chung House
213 Queen’s Road East
Bear in mind that if you decide to make changes to your trademark (even if the office objects to it), you have to submit a new application.
What is the process of trademarking?
Once you submit the application, the Trade Marks Registry shall examine it. The authority has to assess if your application complies with the Trademarks Ordinance (Cap. 559) and the Trademarks Rules (Cap. 559A).
The Registry officials also have to check whether the trademark you seek to register is not identical or too similar to an already registered trademark. Especially if the other entity offers similar goods or services.
Should the Intellectual Property Department of the Government of the Hong Kong SAR object to the registration of your trademark, you should find ways to overcome the objection.
Alternatively, you can try to register a different trademark or have the objection considered at a hearing if you want to dispute it.
Finally, once the authority clears your application and accepts it for registration, it will be published in the Hong Kong Intellectual Property Journal. If someone believes that there are grounds on which they can object to the trademark, they can make an appeal and the matter will be determined by a hearing officer. On the other hand, if there is no opposition, the trademark shall be registered and the applicant (you) shall be given a certificate of registration for the trademark.
Duration of the trademark
When an individual successfully registers a trademark in Hong Kong, the trademark shall remain registered for 10 years.
Logically, the registration of the trademark can be renewed for extended periods of 10 years. However, there are renewal fees that need to be covered.
Should an individual continue registering a trademark after each period of 10 years, the trademark can last indefinitely.
But bear in mind that a registered trademark can be challenged in revocation proceedings if it is not used in Hong Kong for a continuous period of 3 years.
This is something a lot of businesses forget, so make sure to remember this and avoid all the hassle in case you need to apply for registration again.
How do trademarks work across different jurisdictions?
A trademark you register in the region of Hong Kong shall only be valid in Hong Kong. If it is registered there, it shall be applied there.
If you want to have your rights protected (trademark) in other regions (other jurisdictions), Mainland China included, you need to file a separate application for trademark protection. In other words, each different jurisdiction requires you to start a separate trademark registration process.
How do you know if something is trademarked?
To find out if something has already been trademarked, you should conduct a trademark search. To do so, you can conduct an online search for trademarks that have already been registered at the Trademarks Registry, Intellectual Property Department, and the Government of the Hong Kong SAR. Additionally, if you want to look for a trademark registered outside of the Hong Kong SAR, you can do so at various websites such as:
- National Intellectual Property Administration, PRC
- European Union Intellectual Property Office
- Intellectual Property Office (United Kingdom)
- The United States Patent and Trademark Office
- World Intellectual Property Organization
Ready to register your own trademark?
Go through this mini-guide one more time and also check if you have gathered all the necessary documentation. Hopefully, your trademark is unique and it will get accepted quickly.