How to Avoid the Pain of Brand Ransom in China: Why We Proactively Trademarked Our Home Storage Brand

Feb 1, 2024 | 0 comments

Here’s why we trademarked our brand in China.

We got a trademark so our goods don’t get ransomed.

Yes, you read that right.

Imagine this: You’re shipping a container of your top selling products, and suddenly, they’re held up at the port in China.

Not for a routine check, but because someone in China registered your trademark before you did.

Someone who is claiming ownership and now reaching out asking for a “fee” to release your goods.

How Trademarking Works in China

That’s right—in China, it’s a “first to file” system, not “first to use.”

This means whoever registers the trademark first holds the rights, even if they’re not the original brand owner.

This isn’t unique to China.

Opportunists are everywhere.

And it exists in other forms like website URL, or social media handle squatting.

When We Applied and How Much It Cost

We applied for our brand’s China trademark in year 2.

At the time (2019) it cost around $500 USD.

When You Should Apply

If you’re a mature brand reading this and you don’t have a Chinese trademark, then you may want to strongly consider getting one.

If you’re a new brand, then weigh the pros and cons of what your budget can handle.

I built my first brand with a shoestring budget so I get that there might not be a ton of extra money to go around at the start.

But try to apply for your trademark relatively quickly.

Certainly before you are doing higher volume and starting to “get noticed.”

Because by then it may be too late.

It comes down to spending the money now to avoid spending it later.

Does your brand have a trademark in China?

Have you heard of any other opportunistic schemes brands should watch out for?

Obligatory disclaimer: I’m not a lawyer, nor do I play one on the internet. Always obtain professional legal advice when navigating international intellectual property matters.

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