Australia and China enjoy strong international trade relations, with China being Australia’s largest export market for both goods and services, accounting for nearly a third of total exports. Although the opening up of China’s economy has created opportunities for Western brands to target new consumer groups, China’s current trademark system operates on a first-to-file basis, leaving some businesses vulnerable to parties that trademark their brand in bad faith.
Recent news has revealed a growing number of international trademarking misfortunes for Australian businesses, sparked by these first-to-file laws, which make trademark squatting by “Brand Pirates” quite a common practice within the Chinese markets.
Among hundreds of Australian businesses targeted, is entrepreneur Tori Best and her ‘Farmer Browns’ dairy products, which were intended to be sold in both Australian and Chinese supermarkets.
The start-up’s trademark was stolen in China, prior to the production of the anticipated ‘Farmer Browns’ goods. The logo, name, and package design were identical to that of China’s imitated product.
Fortunately, Ms Best was lucky to discover the trademark claim within the three-month opposition phase, allowing her to challenge the lodgement.
Trademarking your business name in each country you wish to enter can be expensive and time-consuming; however, it is critical, as it can be disastrous if you find yourself in a brand dispute in a foreign country and a lot more expensive!.
Tips for Australian business owners looking to sell their products overseas:
- Be cautious of local legislation regarding trademark registration in foreign countries.
- Make sure you register an international trademark covering the particular countries of interest for full protection from “Brand Pirates”.
Pinnacle TMS is one of Australia’s leading team of trademark specialists. To help you avoid the problems faced by Ms Best, we can prepare an Initial Brand Protection Review and Strategy Report specifically tailored to your company and its operations.
To learn more about our international trademark reporting and application services, contact our friendly staff today by calling +61 2 9520 4366 or sending us an email through our online enquiry form.