China intellectual property protection gets cheaper

February 15, 2022

China is joining an international design registration system (the ‘Hague System’) that enables a single international application to cover multiple countries, without overseas attorneys and their associated fees.


When we protect designs in multiple countries, there is usually a choice between 1) instructing local attorney firms in each country, or 2) filing an international design application under the Hague System.

If filing in one foreign territory, the second, international option is sometimes cheaper. However, if filing in several territories, the international option becomes significantly cheaper than filing via local attorneys.

In addition, the international registration process is typically more streamlined and less likely to generate application-related fees after filing. If the application is not objected to, there will be no need to appoint a local attorney.

Until now, China was not part of the Hague System so it was always necessary to appoint Chinese design attorneys to file a Chinese national application.

China joins the Hague System

China now becomes the 94th country to sign up to the Hague System, joining the US, Canada, the EU, Japan, South Korea, and many other territories. As a result, all of the world’s six biggest economies will be part of the Hague System.

The Hague System will enter into force in China on 5 May 2022.

A similar international system exists for Trade Marks, called the Madrid System. China is already part of the Madrid System.

Benefits of registered intellectual property in China

1) It is easier to file intellectual property takedown notices on platforms such as Alibaba™ if your intellectual property (designs, trade marks, patents) is registered in China.

2) If your intellectual property is infringed by goods originating from China, Chinese registrations can provide the opportunity to pursue the factory directly rather than your local competitors who are buying from that factory.

3) Registering your intellectual property in China would make it more difficult for others to later register or use your intellectual property in China in bad faith.

4) If your supplier is based in China, registered intellectual property can deter your supplier from supplying your products to unauthorised third-parties.

5) China’s consumer market is expected to overtake America’s in the coming years.

How can we help?

Our chartered patent and trade mark attorneys are also experienced design attorneys. We regularly file international design applications and can help you to protect designs anywhere in the world.

If you have any queries, please speak to your usual contact at Swindell & Pearson, or get in touch with Tim Gilbert, the author of this article.