Crypto emblems are a no-go in China. According to the nation’s prohibitions on cryptocurrencies, the China Nationwide Mental Property Administration (CNIPA) will not register emblems that describe crypto items and/or companies. Manufacturers within the crypto house should be aware of this actuality when crafting model and mental property rights safety methods for China.
China banned cryptocurrencies in 2021. Consequently, purposes to register emblems that describe crypto items and/or companies are being rejected by CNIPA. At first look, these rejections would seem like according to China’s Trademark Regulation. Article 10(i)(7) prohibits the registration of emblems “detrimental to socialist morality or customs, or having different unhealthy influences.” Apparently, nevertheless, CNIPA doesn’t all the time cite Article 10(i)(7) when rejecting crypto trademark purposes.
Within the case of 1 utility rejected on each crypto and descriptiveness grounds, CNIPA didn’t cite Article 10(i)(7), however did cite the Trademark Regulation’s prohibition towards descriptive marks. We’ve got additionally seen situations the place CNIPA solely cites the procedural sections of the Trademark Regulation.
It’s doable that CNIPA, or a minimum of a few of its examiners, don’t view crypto emblems as inherently violative of Article 10(i)(7), and as a substitute apply a standalone prohibition towards crypto. Maybe acutely aware of the truth that in some unspecified time in the future the authorities might resolve to take a softer stance on crypto, CNIPA might not wish to go as far as to label it detrimental. CNIPA will typically cite Article 10(i)(7), however within the instances we’ve got seen to date, the applying has additionally been rejected on deceptiveness grounds – and it could be that which triggers the Article 10(i)(7) concern.
This all mentioned, my expertise within the public sector taught me to not overanalyze the actions of bureaucratic actors. The underside line is that the trademark shouldn’t be going to be registered, no matter what number of and/or which Trademark Regulation articles are cited. As Deng Xiaoping mentioned, “Regardless of if it’s a white cat or a black cat; so long as it may well catch mice, it’s a good cat.”
With crypto manufacturers conscious of this panorama, they want to make sure that their items and companies descriptions are drafted in a manner that makes them prone to move muster for a China trademark. For one, this implies avoiding phrases similar to “cryptocurrency”.
To be clear, the thought right here is to not attempt to pull the wool over CNIPA’s eyes. Moderately, it’s to keep away from conditions the place Web3 expertise and companies which have purposes that stretch past crypto are outlined too narrowly, in a manner that deprives the model of trademark safety.
On this sense, manufacturers must be notably cautious with Madrid purposes. One of many advantages of nationwide purposes (that’s, these filed immediately with CNIPA) is that they permit trademark homeowners to tailor their purposes to China’s particular necessities. Avoiding China-specific restrictions on crypto emblems is a textbook instance of a state of affairs the place a model would wish to do this.
Evidently, so long as China’s prohibition on crypto stands, nobody must be entering into that enterprise in China. Manufacturers within the wider Web3 house, however, ought to take care to make sure that references to crypto don’t jeopardize the safety of their emblems that additionally (or solely) describe items and/or companies that aren’t associated to crypto.