Hong Kong is a big playground for traders and many decide to open up companies in this crown jewel. Low taxes, proximity to Mainland China and efficiency are just a few reasons why people incorporate here.
If you decide to sell products, or open a company in Hong Kong, I highly recommend that you register your trademark. The process will not take a long time, nor cost you a lot of money.
Therefore, I’ve written this guide where I explain the crucial information you need to know when registering a trademark in Hong Kong. Let’s have a look.
Hong Kong trademark law
Hong Kong has two different trademark laws, also referred to as ordinances:
- Trade Marks Ordinance (Cap. 559)
- Trade Marks Rules (Cap. 559A)
Both of these are effective as of April 4th, 2004.
The ordinances are long and contain much legal wording, therefore I won’t go into much detail and cite parts of the ordinances.
Instead, if you want to read any of the ordinances, you can simply visit IPD’s (the Intellectual Property Department) website, where the both laws are listed.
Below I’ve listed some examples of trademarks that cannot be registered, referring to these laws:
a. Contrary to accepted principles of morality
b. Likely to deceive the public
c. Its use is prohibited in Hong Kong under or by virtue of any law
d. The application for registration of the trade mark is made in bad faith
e. If it consists of or contains the national flag or its design, the national emblem or its design, the regional flag or its design, the regional emblem or its design
Hong Kong trademark search
This is a very simple process, and similar to Singapore’s, where trademark registrations are comparatively easy and efficient.
Trademark classes in Hong Kong
As Hong Kong is part of the Nice Agreement, sometimes referred to as the Nice Classification, you have 45 categories to choose among, where 34 belong to products and 11 for services.
Below I’ve included some of the most common classes, if you plan to sell retail products like clothes, food, and more:
For laundry detergents, perfumes, soaps, essential oils, cosmetics and hair lotions.
Pharmaceutical and veterinary preparations, dietetic substances adapted for medical use, food for babies, material for stopping teeth, dental wax.
Machines and machine tools; motors and engines (except for land vehicles, and more.
Apparatus for lighting, heating, steam generating, cooking, refrigerating, drying, ventilating, water supply and sanitary purposes.
Furniture, mirrors, picture frames, goods (not included in other classes) of wood, cork, reed, cane, and more.
Household or kitchen utensils and containers (not of precious metal or coated therewith), combs and sponges, brushes (except paint brushes), brush-making materials, articles for cleaning purposes, glassware, porcelain, and more.
Clothing, footwear, headgear.
Games and playthings, gymnastic and sporting articles not included in other classes.
Meat, fish, poultry and game. Meat extract; preserved, dried and cooked fruits and vegetables; jellies, jams, compotes; eggs, milk and milk products; edible oils and fats
Coffee, tea, cocoa, sugar, rice, tapioca, sago, artificial coffee; flour and preparations made from cereals, bread, pastry and confectionery, ices; honey, treacle; yeast, baking-powder; salt, mustard; vinegar, sauces (condiments); spices; ice.
Agricultural, horticultural and forestry products and grains nor included in other classes; live animals; fresh fruits and vegetables; seeds, natural plants and flowers; foodstuffs for animals, malt.
Beers; mineral and aerated waters and other non-alcoholic drinks; fruit drinks and fruits juices; syrups and other preparations for making beverages.
Alcoholic beverages (except beers).
For a complete list with all trademark classes, you can simply visit IPD’s website.
Process when registering a trademark
Registering a trademark is straightforward, and you’ll get more support from the government in terms of materials available, direct contact through emails and phone calls, from law firms, and more.
Below I’ve included the different steps included when registering for a trademark:
1. Submit the application form
The application forms you should fill in are called T2 or T2A. You can find these forms, and other forms, on IPD’s website.
You pay at the time you submit the form, this is a trigger for the IPD to start handling your trademark registration case.
2. Deficiencies checking
In the second part of the process, IPD will do a so called Deficiencies checking.
During the process, IPD will walk through your application and its attachments, to see that you have filled in the form correctly, or if you need to provide any missing information.
You don’t need to submit the T2 or T2A form again, but simply need to provide the missing information within 6 months, sometimes with a possibility for an extension of 3 months (6+3 = 9 months).
Some common issues can be:
- You included the wrong classes
- Graphical illustration is not clear enough
- Information regarding why you want to register your trademark
If you encounter this issue, keep close communication with the Registrar and IPD to assure that you can complement the application in time.
3. Trademark search and examination
If the Deficiencies checking is approved, it’s time to do a trademark search.
This is one of the most important steps when registering a trademark, and service providers normally offer separate services for trademark searches.
When doing the search, you’ll see if:
a. Another company owns the same or a similar trademark
b. If a company is in the process to register the same or a similar trademark
When the trademark search is completed, you receive a formal notice in writing, confirming whether your trademark can continue for registration.
4. Publication for opposition in the HKIP Journal
As mentioned, the trademark registration process is swift and similar to Singapore’s.
The same as it goes in Singapore, you’ll need to pass a a publication for opposition, which normally lasts for 3 months.
At this stage, IPD will issue a publication of your trademark in the HKIP (Hong Kong Intellectual Property) journal. During this period, other traders have the option to to file an opposition to your trademark registration, where you can either withdraw the registration, or file a counter-statement.
5. Registration of your trademark
If you pass the publication for opposition in the HKIP journal, you’ve successfully managed to register your trademark, and the Registrar will include your trademark in the official trademark register.
You’ll also receive a certificate of registration.
The certificate will be valid as of the filing date of the application.
How long time does it take to apply for a Hong Kong trademark?
If you have no problems to pass the any of the above mentioned steps, the application normally takes 6 months (from filing the application to registration).
However, be sure to add some marginal as the registration can take longer time.
How much does it cost?
You need to pay HKD 2000 to apply for a trademark registration.
IPD will add HKD 1000 on top of that, if you need to add more classes.
For how long is my trademark valid?
The same as it goes in Mainland China and Singapore, your trademark registration will be valid for 10 years.
You can renew the trademark for an additional validity of 10 years continuously, so in theory, you can have the trademark in perpetuity.
How can I renew my trademark?
If you want to renew your trademark, you need to make a registration for renewal at IPD earliest 6 months before, or latest 6 months after the expiration date of the trademark (+/- 6 months).
Registering a trademark in Hong Kong is a simple process, and won’t set you back more than a couple of hundred US dollars.
When it comes to trademark laws, Hong Kong follows the Nice Agreement, which involves more than 150 countries (including Singapore). This makes discussions and cross border comparisons easier, making the process more efficient.
It also has two ordinances, issued by the government, which can be found online.
Doing a registration in Mainland China requires a bit more work and money, Hong Kong is very similar to developed countries like Singapore in that sense.
In short words, the process consists of: Filing of your application, an examination of the registration, a publication in the HKIP, and finally the official registration. It’s as easy as that, and the process won’t take you more than 6 months, if everything goes smoothly.
Be sure to add some additional time, in case any issues occur along the way.
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