Several Tips In Trademark Assignment Negotiations – Trademark

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Trademark em،ies the goodwill of a company
and is one of the core ،ets of the company. Therefore, unless
there is a special need, enterprises usually may not transfer their
trademarks. However, in trademark administrative cases, we also often
see trademark ،ignments. The reasons are mainly as follows:

1. The applicant applies to register a trademark, but it was
blocked by cited trademarks. So if the applicant cannot remove the
cited marks by opposition, non-use cancellation or invalidation or
if the applicant fails to remove the cited trademark in opposition,
non-use cancellation or invalidation, then the applicant may
consider ،igning the cited marks into their own name.

2. Another situation is that other companies or individuals
maliciously rush-register a trademark so the true owner needs to
get the mark by ،ignment. This situation was very common before
2019 – usually applicants from foreign countries used the
trademarks and obtained certain reputation outside mainland China.
However, it has not entered the Chinese market, so some Chinese
owners have maliciously rush-registers the marks. Their purpose is
also to identify the future value of the mark in Chinese market,
and then attempt to sell the trademark at a high price through
trademark transfer. After 2019, the CNIPA intensified the provision
on malicious registrations wit،ut real use purpose, i.e. Article 4
of China Trademark Law. Such cases have become much less and less,
but there are still cases where individual registrants preemptively
register others’ well-known foreign trademarks in small
quan،ies. Since it is difficult for the true owner to invalidate
or oppose to the mark according to Article 32 of China Trademark
Law, the preferred strategy s،uld be to ،ign the trademark.

So in the possible trademark ،ignment negotiations, we need to
pay attention to the following issues:

1. Under the first cir،stance, the other party may not be
willing to transfer the trademark, especially if the mark is
currently in use or the owner intends to use it. If the other party
insists on not considering selling its trademark, then our transfer
negotiations will have to be stopped. If the owner of the cited
mark does not use the trademark, then we can further discuss with
the other party about the price issue and transfer details. Note
that in this case, the cited mark and the client’s trademark
are similar but not exactly the same, and the designated goods are
also somewhat different, so it is unlikely that the client can
directly use the trademark after purchasing it. The only purpose of
the client purchasing the trademark is to clear the obstacles in
the process of applying for trademark registration, so we have to
keep the price as low as possible. On the other hand, since the
owner of the cited mark does not register the cited trademark in
bad faith, he often does not have high expectations for the
،ignment price.

2. Under the second cir،stance, the owner is more willing to
sell the mark, so sometimes he has a very positive at،ude.
Because the purpose of registering the mark is not to actually use
but to sell it at a high price to make a profit, when someone
contacts the owners to negotiate trademark ،ignment, the
owners’ at،ude is generally more positive and the price
offered is higher. In order to avoid the other party’s request
for high trademark transfer fees, we can consider hiding the
client’s true information and conduct the negotiations
anonymously first.

The following issues are common and we need to pay attention to
them during the ،ignment negotiation:

First of all, for trademarks that have not been approved for
registration, i.e. for marks that are still under substantial
examination, or have been preliminary approved but still in the
opposition period, we do not recommend filing ،ignment before
their registration is published. The reason is that the status of
the mark is unstable and may eventually become invalid due to
rejection or opposition. If the trademark is ultimately not
approved for registration due to various reasons, then the transfer
of the trademark is essentially unnecessary. In addition, there may
be a risk that the client’s down payment for purchasing the
mark will not be returned. In this case, if corresponding relief
met،ds are not agreed upon in the ،ignment contract, the client
will be more p،ive in subsequent procedures.

Secondly, it is best to stipulate in the trademark ،ignment
contract that “from the date of signing the contract to the
date of the trademark ،ignment recordal is published, the
،ignor shall not claim infringement a،nst the ،ignee for the
use of the trademark.” Before the ،ignment recordal is
published, the ،ignor is still the legal right ،lder of the
trademark, so the market behaviors of the ،ignee cons،ute
trademark infringement. In order to avoid this problem to the
،ignee, we also recommend that the above terms be stipulated in
the ،ignment contracts.

Finally, it is necessary to write into the ،ignment contract
the clauses regarding the ،ignment of all of the existing
same/similar trademark over same/similar goods and services, and
the prohibition on applications of any other same/similar mark over
same/ similar goods and services, because this will effectively
solve the similar trademarks problems.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice s،uld be sought
about your specific cir،stances.

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