By Ed Chatterton

Unlike many countries, it is not possible to register trademarks for retail services in China. This position has recently changed with the implementation on January 1, 2013 of the revised Chinese Trademark Office (CTMO) trademark classification which now recognizes retail and wholesale services, albeit in a limited way. The CTMO’s revised classification now recognizes seven new items of services in Class 3509 covering “retail and wholesale services for pharmaceutical, veterinary and hygienic preparations and goods for pharmaceutical purposes.” These new service specifications will protect the sale of pharmaceutical, veterinary, and hygienic preparations across all points of sale, including traditional “brick and mortar” stores as well as online retailers.

This is the first time the CTMO has recognized retail services. Historically, applications for retail services have been rejected by the CTMO and brand owners were limited to registering trademarks for services which were similar to retail services, such as “display of goods” or “promotion for others.” Many are hopeful that this change may signify a more liberal approach by the CTMO for the recognition of retail services and presages a wider recognition of retail services.

Brand owners who wish to take advantage of this change may now file trademark applications for retail services of pharmaceutical, veterinary, and hygienic preparation goods. However, during an initial period from January 1 to 31, 2013 only those applicants who can provide a copy of their business license or certificate of incorporation which shows that the scope of operation of their business is consistent with retail services for these goods can file applications for the new services. Beginning February 1, 2013, these requirements will no longer apply. Brand owners in the pharmaceutical, veterinary, household or personal care industries seeking to minimize the risk of a third party registering their trademark for the new services may wish to file during the initial period or as soon as possible thereafter.

For more information, please contact Ed Chatterton at