Some foreign companies do not think of the importance of Chinese trade marks and simply register their trade marks in their foreign language, which may cause business challenges, especially in China.
Experience has shown us that, in China, if foreign companies do not have their Chinese versions of their original trade marks, people may tend to “invent” the Chinese nicknames or devise their own versions of the Chinese names for these marks, which may not match the business’ identities or images.
For a foreign trade mark owner, it is advisable to adopt a Chinese trade mark in addition to its mark in the foreign language. It will no doubt serve as an important marketing tool that will familiarize the Chinese-speaking people the company and its goods and/or services, especially in China.
The trade mark owner may choose a Chinese mark on the basis of its exact or similar transliteration (preferable) OR a direct translation of the original mark in foreign language. This may help Chinese-speaking people to correctly pronounce or better recall the original non-Chinese trade mark.
The Trade mark owner should also consider the meaning and the pronunciation (in Mandarin or Cantonese) of the combination of the chosen Chinese characters in the Chinese language before adopting them as their trade marks.
In practice, one Chinese version of the mark for all Chinese-speaking markets, i.e. China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau, is sufficient.
Here are some examples:
LANEIGE (A French word which means “snow”)
兰芝 (China) / 蘭芝 (Taiwan) : Pronouns as “lan zhi” (resembles to the pronunciation of “LANEIGE”) and the combination of these two Chinese characters means “orchid flower”, which symbolic of high-minded individuals.
CHANEL (A French surname which means "pipe")
香奈儿 (China) / 香奈兒 (Hong Kong / Taiwan) : Pronouns as “xiang nai er” (closely similar to the pronunciation of “CHANEL”) which means “fragrance, bear, particle attached to noun” respectively.
It is also important to register the version of the mark which is (or will be) used in the country concerned, e.g. to register the simplified Chinese characters in China and traditional Chinese characters in Hong Kong, Macau and/or Taiwan.
Our experienced team will be pleased to advise on such trademark challenges.
This article is for information purposes only. Its contents do not constitute legal advice and readers should not regard this article as a substitute for detailed advice in individual instances.