Intellectual property registration and protection can be complex, especially in overseas markets. We recommend you seek advice from an IP professional regarding your specific circumstances.
Protecting intellectual property (IP) should be a key part of any business strategy for China. While China remains a challenging market, IP protection has been improving.
The key fundamentals in China are to register your IP rights as early as possible, use strong contracts, and actively enforce against infringers. IP Australia’s PDF guide Protecting your IP in China contains a summary of our key messages. The links below provide more detailed information on specific topics.
IP rights in China
IP rights are territorial, meaning an Australian trade mark, patent or design only provides protection in Australia. In order to protect your IP rights in China, you need to register them in China. Registering IP rights in China as early as possible can save significant time and money later.
Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau all have separate legal systems. Protection in each territory requires separate registrations.
- Trade marks
- Patents and designs
- Plant variety rights
- Geographical indications
- Trade secrets
IP Protection in Hong Kong and Macau
An IP right registered in mainland China does not provide protection in Hong Kong and Macau. If you want protection in these territories, you will need to register your IP rights in these territories.
Legal agreements for China
China’s legal system has many differences from Australia’s legal system. It’s important to have experienced Chinese legal advisors provide advice on contracts and other legal matters. Australian legal counsel can work with Chinese lawyers, or you can go directly to a Chinese or international firm.
- Contracts for China - a summary of key tips for contracts in China.
- Guide to Contracts in China – a more extensive and detailed guide on contracts in China.
Research collaboration in China
A successful research collaboration or partnership is one that not only yields research outcomes and publications, but protects the IP produced by the Australian party. Our guide explores common pitfalls and explains how to use legal agreements as a framework for successful collaboration.
Manufacturing in China
If you are having products made in China, you should take measures to protect your IP from your Chinese manufacturer and other parties.
Enforcing your rights in China
If you’ve registered your IP rights in China, and protected your IP using strong contracts, you will be well positioned to enforce your IP rights in China.
Domain names are identifiers or addresses rather than IP rights. They can be useful in reaching Chinese consumers and raising the visibility of your business in China. It can be important to protect domain names to prevent them being misused by domain name squatters or counterfeiters.
Topic-specific IP guides
- Protecting your IP in China (summary)
- Guide to searching the Chinese trade mark register
- China wine guide
- Protecting IP in business discussions and trade fairs
- Guide to Contracts in China
- Guide to Research Collaboration in China
- Protecting your intellectual property in China (5 December 2019, 59 mins) provides further information on protecting intellectual property in China.
- Must knows for a China Contract – a webinar for Australian legal professionals (11 July 2019, 60 mins)
- Patent protection in China – a webinar for patent attorneys (11 October 2019, 60 mins)
More webinars and video recordings are available on IP Australia’s YouTube page.
IP Australia’s Beijing-based IP Counsellor provides IP support for Australian businesses in China. For more information, or to discuss your specific situation, contact MDB-IPCounsellor-China@ipaustralia.gov.au.
- Austrade have offices across Greater China to support Australian companies. Austrade can help Australian businesses understand the Chinese market and consumer preferences, provide introductions to potential local partners, and other services.
- Business.gov.au is a one stop shop to connect businesses with information, grants, and support. This includes the Australian government’s Export Market Development Grants, which provides export-ready companies with reimbursement for up to 50 per cent of eligible export promotion expenses, including costs of registering IP rights in overseas markets.