On October 12, 2021, the China National IP Administration (CNIPA) formally announced that starting January 1, 2022, only electronic copies of trademark registration certificates will be issued, and hard copies will no longer be printed.
The change in procedure had been expected as CNIPA expands its broader e-filing system, which began to operate in September 2018. Since that time CNIPA has begun issuing a wider range of documents in electronic form, including filing receipts, approval certificates for renewals, name and address changes, and refusal notices, etc.
Proving Registration for Enforcement Purposes
Going forward, Chinese authorities handling enforcement of registered trademarks will accept e-certificates in lieu of paper certificates.
Meanwhile, it is expected that enforcement authorities fielding enforcement petitions and online trade platforms handling take-down requests will refuse to take action based on an e-certificate unless the trademark owner provides a paper version of the certificate corroborated by CNIPA through application of its official seal. CNIPA will normally issue such seals within one working day and without charge.
In general, certificates issued by WIPO which confirm the existence of an International Registration are insufficient to enforce trademark rights in China. As such, brand owners must apply to CNIPA for Certification documents which confirm the contents of IRs that have been successfully extended to China.
Starting January 1, 2022, such Certifications will likewise only be issued in electronic form. The timeframe for issuance remains unclear, but it is likely to be two to six weeks from the date of filing.