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In the bustling commercial center of Hong Kong, having a unique trademark registration can greatly impact the success of a business. In today's competitive business environment, a trademark is not just an identification symbol, but also an important tool for building brand image and protecting intellectual property. We bring you a simple and comprehensive guide to Hong Kong trademark registration, helping you easily navigate the challenges of starting a business.
What is a Trademark?
A trademark is a symbol used to identify specific goods and services of a business. A trademark can consist of text, signs, design patterns, letters, numerals, graphic elements, colors, and even sounds, smells, or the shape of goods or their packaging, expressed in any form of writing or drawing.
Why Register a Trademark?
Once you register your trademark, you gain basic exclusive rights to use that trademark. Unauthorized use of your registered trademark by other businesses for similar goods or services in Hong Kong constitutes infringement, and you can take legal action. Without registration, your protection is limited.
- The fee for registering a trademark in a single class of goods or services is HKD 2,000.
- An additional fee of HKD 1,000 is charged for each additional class of goods or services.
1. Submitting the Application
Upon receiving the application form T2, the Trademark Registry will issue a receipt and notify you of the application number.
2. Application Examination
Before conducting a detailed examination of the application, the Trademark Registry will review the application form and all attachments to ensure they are properly filled out and contain accurate and complete information. If any information is missing, the Trademark Registry will request the applicant to remedy the deficiencies within 2 months. Significant amendments, such as not submitting a representation of the trademark, may affect the filing date, while substantial changes, such as altering the trademark representation, will not be accepted.
3. Search and Examination
After addressing any deficiencies found during the examination and ensuring all necessary information is in place, the Trademark Registry will conduct a search of existing trademarks to ensure there are no identical or similar trademarks registered or pending registration for similar goods or services. Additionally, the Trademark Registry will examine whether the trademark meets the registration requirements under the Trademarks Ordinance. Subsequently, the Examiner will issue a written opinion explaining the preliminary examination results. It is generally recommended for applicants to conduct an official search (First Class HK$800, Subsequent Class HK$600) to obtain a more detailed report and guidance, which will naturally facilitate the registration process.
4. Opposition and Hearing (if necessary)
If the application does not comply with registration requirements, the Trademark Registry will raise objections and explain the reasons in the opinion. If the objections can be resolved, the Trademark Registry will propose solutions to the applicant. The applicant must comply within 6 months. This period can be extended by 3 months.
If the application still does not meet registration requirements, the Trademark Registry will issue another opinion explaining the examination results. The issued opinion will be sent after the expiry of the 6-month period stipulated in the preliminary opinion. During this stage, if the applicant wishes to proceed with the application, they can make submissions within 3 months from the date of the subsequent opinion, either meeting the registration requirements or requesting a hearing. All evidence regarding the trademark registration will be considered during the hearing, and the hearing officer will make a decision.
5. Publication and Third-Party Opposition
After accepting your application, the Trademark Registry will publish it in the Hong Kong Intellectual Property Journal. Anyone can view your trademark in the journal and file an opposition against your registration application. The opponent must submit a notice of opposition within 3 months from the publication date. As the applicant, you can withdraw your registration application or file a counterstatement against the opposition, arranging for both parties to attend a hearing, where the hearing officer will make a decision. The successful party in the opposition proceedings is usually entitled to recover legal costs.
6. Successful Registration
Once the Registrar of Trademarks accepts the application for trademark registration, detailed information about the trademark will be recorded in the register, and a certificate of registration will be issued to the applicant. Additionally, the Registrar will publish a registration notice in the Hong Kong Intellectual Property Journal, with the registration date dating back to the date of application submission.
The trademark registration process usually takes time and can be complex. We advise applicants to seek support from a professional team to make the registration process hassle-free.
Approval Process Duration:
- Approximately 6 months from the date of application (unless no additional applications are submitted during this period).
- Successful application is valid for 10 years.
- Can be renewed for another 10 years (within 6 months before or after the expiration of the validity period).
The following are the items or symbols that may be applicable for trademark registration in Hong Kong, as listed by the Intellectual Property Department:
- Words, phrases, or short sentences (can be abstract words or personal names)
- Chinese characters, numbers, or letters
- Packaging shapes or designs
- Images, shapes, or pattern elements
- Colors, sounds, or smells
Qualified trademarks can be composed of any combination of the above-mentioned symbols (expressible through writing or drawing). Registered trademarks can be indicated with the ® symbol, while trademarks that are not registered or still under examination can use the ™ symbol. When designing a trademark, it is important to consider not only compliance with regulations but also how it reflects your company's image and values. This will guide you in making the final decision.
Common Application Mistake
- The trademark's image should clearly and comprehensively represent the trademark.
- Improper labeling or identifying explanations for a series of trademarks.
- For trademark registration applications submitted in Chinese, the explanatory section should only be filled out with traditional Chinese characters.
- Incorrect classification of the goods or services associated with the trademark. Refer to the latest version and text of the "Nice Classification" applicable on the application date. For more information, please refer to the Intellectual Property Department website "How to Classify My Goods/Services".
- If a trademark consists of characters, letters, or fonts that are neither Roman nor Chinese, or if it includes such characters, letters, or fonts, the application should include the transliteration or translation of those characters, letters, or fonts.
You can revoke a trademark if it has not been used within 3 consecutive years from the date of registration. Similarly, to prevent the cancellation of a trademark, even if it is rarely used, you need to prove that you have genuinely used your trademark.
Registering a trademark is crucial for the long-term success of your brand. Choosing not to register a trademark for temporary convenience may have serious consequences and result in losses. OneStart Business Center provides professional trademark registration services, allowing you to master the intricacies of the trademark application process and eliminate the worries of starting a business. To learn more, call 3575 6888 or WhatsApp OneStart Business Consultants now!
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