Trademark Application Delays - China, US & Europe

Miikka Timonen,

China, the US and Europe are amongst the most popular regions for filing trademarks outside of your own domestic region. The three regions have very different regimes, filing systems and challenges and all of those factors play a role in determining how long it might take to secure a successful registration.

The Trademark Application Delays ebook provides a region by region analysis of the time taken to complete registration in a number of countries. The explicit factors affecting that  may include the system used in that particular office, opposed applications, missing deadlines, unpaid fees, and providing incomplete information. Our analysis relies on trademark application data received from trademark offices and not all offices consistently abide to conventions regarding the recording dates which can impact the accuracy of results.

We take a deeper dive into the filing times in each of these regions using data has been gathered from the TrademarkNow platform. Data includes trademarks registered between December 12, 2006 - August 4, 2017 and has been standardised to eliminate anomalous outliers. The numbers for processing time analysis are calculated from the data received from individual trademark offices.

The Best Way To Approach Trademarks In China Is With Patience

The average time for securing a trademark registration in China is around fifteen to eighteen months, even if no difficulties are faced throughout its registration. If an opposition is filed or a rejection decision is issued, the registration may take over 3-4 years (1000-1400 days) to be completed.

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 The above histogram shows the underlying frequency distribution of trademark application delays in China. This allows inspection of data that is rarely available for others outside the government officers.  This analysis can help to predict trends and see/understand the outliers of the data. The above histogram tells a lot but the most significant insight shows that patience is a necessary requirement for the Chinese trademark application system..

Naturally, looking at the distribution of the data, it is tempting to make predictions about how long it takes to register a trademark in China. The trend of registration is that generally the applicant can obtain registration within 500 days after applying for protection. If you are very lucky, you may receive the registration within a one year timeline. However, this would be an exceptional case.

In recent years, application volumes have increased significantly in China and it is likely that this impacts the time taken to review applications.

The most interesting thing about the histogram is its shape at 900 days to 1200 days. The reason for such a long delay may be that the application was opposed. The histogram shows that the opposition delay is more likely to be over 1000 days than less.  In contrast with opposition times in Brazil (where an opposition can take over eight years), the opposing times seem to be reasonable and in accordance with the industry standards in Asia. Also, it is good to note that it is highly unlikely that a registration process will take more than five years….although not impossible!

Based on our data, moving forward with a Chinese trademark application makes sense, even if it will take rather a long time before the trademark is secured. China is a ‘first to file’ country and therefore it makes sense to apply for protection as soon as reasonably possible. The China market is a rare one where speed is valuable but the rewards of patience are gold.

USPTO - Progressive Systems Are Reducing Application Delays

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In direct opposition to the trademark filing system in China, the bulk of filings at the USPTO that do not experience complicated issues can reasonably expect to see a successful registration concluded at or below the 1 year mark. While it is certainly possible to see a trademark registered within a 6 month period, the histogram above shows that this is not the experience of the majority of filings although a substantial portion of applications are completed around the 9 month mark.

This consistent success in reducing application times is largely due to the focus given to such efficiency at the USPTO. They publish an annual 'Performance And Accountability Report' that highlights their ultimate goals for trademark registration times and their progress on the key metrics related to those goals.

Their 2016 report lists the initiatives that they have implemented - the construction of an educational programme to assist those filing new applications, investment in their technology, a focus on a clear and precise register of trademarks and examination of their fee structure. These developments were geared towards a primary goal of processing the majority of trademarks within a 1 year period. The above histogram stands as an illustration of their success. With the exception of a small peak between 400 and 450 days, the gradient from the 200 - 250 day level falls away sharply, leaving only a few applications trailing slowly behind at 1000+ days. With their stated goals in this regard being at the forefront of their performance report, it will be interesting to compare this graph with the ones in the future!

Robustly Cleared Trademark Applications Find Success In Europe

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The timeline above gives approximate timescale to achieve registration for a trademark in Europe. In a straightforward case, the registration process is relatively swift and it takes approximately 100 days to 250 days to gain registration. If there are any obstacles, due to opposition or other major errors in applications, the registration process may take over 550 days.

The above histogram shows a relatively stable trend across the limited time period. The distribution of the data is focused on certain areas and after its peak, the amount of registration delays naturally lowers until the end. The EUIPO histogram shows that the registration processes are strictly done in definite and consistent way. The certain differences at the start of the histogram may be  explained by the EUIPO’s method of granting extensions for erroneous applications.  If the EUIPO finds an error or an objection is filed, it will contact the applicant who has a period of two months to remedy any deficiencies and reply. The applicant may also initially ask for a  two-month extension of time to prepare its response. After the first automatically approved extension, there is the possibility to seek another extension, however justification for such will have to be provided.

Overall, the EUIPO registration process is stable procedure where most applications are processed in a reasonable time frame and even in the case of trademark disputes, these are concluded within a reasonable amount of time. A trademark application that is profoundly and well-cleared is the best approach for EU Trademarks.

Trademark Application Delays

miikka-timonen
By Miikka Timonen

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