Intellectual property rights are widely safeguarded worldwide, and several significant reasons exist.
Foremost, these rights ensure that the appropriate reward is granted to individuals for their creations. This also guarantees that the inventors are appropriately recognized and receive any future bonuses.
Hong Kong authorities know that intellectual property protection is essential to encouraging innovation. But most significantly, intellectual property rights ensure that no other individual dares steal or misuse the previously registered goods. Businesses (and individuals) would receive little to no rewards from their discoveries if ideas were not protected. So, without further ado, let’s look at how Hong Kong handles these rules and those who try to skirt them.
Definition of trademarks in Hong Kong
Trademarks are symbols that assist customers in identifying your products and services. This is critical since every entrepreneur understands that differentiating themselves from competitors is the key to success. In other words, this is what distinguishes one’s products from the competition and provides a distinct brand image.
Generally, a trademark might consist of words (including human names), indications, designs, letters, characters, numbers, figurative elements, colors, sounds, fragrances, product form, or even packaging.
To be registered and recognized as a trademark, this symbol must be able to be represented visually. Consequently, client identification of your brand implies that you may establish your business reputation by utilizing the distinct identity of your items.
It also helps to build recurring business since your clients want to acquire the product with which they are already familiar.
What can be registered as a trademark?
To register a trademark, you must create something original and different. This includes all signs, markings, words, phrases, pictures, symbols, and other identifiers. You may also mix and match these to create your trademark.
Just remember that everything you choose must be distinctive. In other words, if someone else has registered the identical trademark, you’ll have to locate another. Take a look at the list to discover what may be trademarked to make the process easier for you:
- Word or a combination of words (Apple, Samsung, etc.)
- Logo or a device (Nike’s tick symbol, for instance)
- Sound (music jingles)
- 3D shapes
- Image (such as the Coca-Cola logo)
- Your invented word
- Combination of colors or sometimes even a single color combined with a comment or device
- The shape of goods or their packaging
It is also worth mentioning that many people misperception that an idea may be trademarked. You should be aware that a concept cannot be trademarked.
Furthermore, prior use of the trademark is not required. This is not a requirement for applying for trademark registration.
How do I register a trademark in Hong Kong?
Before registering a trademark, you must first determine whether or not someone else has already registered or sought to register the same or similar trademark.
The Trademark Registry Hong Kong is quite beneficial since it provides Search and Preliminary Advice services to anyone seeking information on trademarks from official records.
Following that, you must pay the application fee for trademark registration. The asking price is HK$2,000. However, there is an extra charge of HK$1,000 for each new class of goods or services, if any.
After doing a trademark search and completing your application form (Form T2), you must supply a visual representation of your trademark and confirm the covered expenses.
Finally, email your application to the address shown below.
Trade Marks Registry
Intellectual Property Department
24/F, Wu Chung House
213 Queen’s Road East
Remember that you must file a new application if you decide to alter your trademark (even if the office opposes it).
Trademark registration procedure
The Trade Marks Registry will review your application after you submit it. The authorities must determine whether your application follows the Trademarks Ordinance (Cap. 559) and the Trademarks Rules (Cap. 559A).
The Registry officials must also determine if the trademark you want to register is not identical or too similar to another brand that is already registered, primarily if the other firm provides comparable products or services.
Suppose the Intellectual Property Department of the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region objects to your trademark registration. In that case, you must find a solution to overcome the objection.
You can also try registering a different trademark or having the objection heard in a hearing if you want to dispute it.
If a person feels there are grounds to object to the trademark, they can file an appeal, and a hearing officer will decide the case. If there is no resistance, the trademark is registered, and the applicant (you) is issued a certificate of registration for the trademark. Finally, after your application has been cleared and accepted for registration by the government, it will be published in the Hong Kong Intellectual Property Journal.
Duration of the trademark
When a person successfully registers a trademark in Hong Kong, the trademark is valid for ten years.
Logically, the trademark registration can be renewed for ten years. However, there are renewal costs that must be paid.
If a person continues to register a trademark every ten years, the trademark will remain eternally.
However, if a registered trademark is not used in Hong Kong for three years, it might be challenged in revocation procedures.
This is something that many businesses overlook, so keep it in mind to save yourself the trouble of reapplying for registration.
How do trademarks work across different jurisdictions?
A trademark registered in the Hong Kong area is only valid in Hong Kong. If it is registered there, it must be implemented there.
If you want your rights (trademark) protected in other locations (jurisdictions), including Mainland China, you must file a separate application for trademark protection. Put another way; each jurisdiction needs you to begin a new trademark registration procedure.
How do you know if something is trademarked?
You should run a trademark search to see whether anything has already been trademarked. To do so, undertake an internet search for previously registered trademarks at the Trademarks Registry, the Intellectual Property Department, and the Government of the Hong Kong SAR. Furthermore, if you wish to search for a trademark registered outside of the Hong Kong SAR, you can do so at a variety of websites, including:
- National Intellectual Property Administration, PRC
- European Union Intellectual Property Office
- Intellectual Property Office (United Kingdom)
- The United States Patent and Trademark Office
- World Intellectual Property Organization
Are you prepared to register your trademark?
Go through this mini-guide again, and ensure you have all the relevant papers. Hopefully, your trademark is one-of-a-kind and will be immediately accepted.