Never underestimate the power of intellectual property

Why you should register it and how

Most likely, your Intellectual Property represent a significant value to your business and as such it is critical to safeguard your company assets. This holds true in any market, but may appear more critical in markets where business cultures and jurisdictions are so different from your home market experiences. Such as China.

The good news is that copyright infringement is a risk that can easily be mitigated through China’s voluntary registration system.

Why

Although copyright protection is an automatic right granted in China without the need for registration, taking advantage of China’s voluntary registration system is highly recommended because:

  • The issued Certificate offers an extra line of defence by saving the copyright holder precious time, effort and cost in case of infringement and enforcement.
  • The issued Certificate serves as prima facie proof of ownership and greatly facilitates enforcement efforts and litigation in China. Witness evidence generally carries lower evidential weight than documentary evidence such as copyright registration certificates.
  • Many Chinese e-commerce platforms have adopted a ‘notice and take down program’, which require the proof of IP rights in order to take infringing offers down. By a similar token, a copyright registration can more effectively back up one’s claim in a cease-and-desist letter.
  • Patents will help you in marketing and building goodwill in market because people trust patented products.
How

The copyright examination and issuing of the copyright registration certificate is typically completed within 31 (to 90) working days upon payment of the application fee.

Step 1
Set up your account on the website of Copyright Protection Center of China, http:// ccopyright.com.cn/cpcc/index.jsp. The account is available in Chinese only.

Step 2
Log in and click ‘I want to register’, then select R11. application for computer software copyright registration or Z11. application for works copyright registration and fill in the application form.

Step 3
Upon completing the application form online, print it and sign / affix your company’s seal on the printed copy.

Step 4
Hand in or post to Copyright Protection Center of China the registration files including the documents mentioned in step 2 as well as:

Application Form: To be filled in Chinese and signed by you.

ID documents: Original legalized or notarized version of the legal incorporation document (by the Chinese Consulate in your country) translated into Chinese Mandarin, which includes at least the following information: name of the entity, incorporation date and place, certificate number and validity.

Ownership Statement: Commission, license or joint development contract; or Assignment by the superior authority.

Power of Attorney: To a local agent together with the ID certificate of said agent.

Work samples: A sample on hard copy or electronic media; together with a work specification introducing the intention, process and the uniqueness of the creation; and signature of the author. (For software the source program shall be submitted. Ask us for specification.)

Step 5
Copyright Protection Center of China pro forma checks the documentation. If the files do not meet the requirements, you will be requested to provide supplements.

Step 6
Pay the relevant registration fee to receive the notification of receipt of the application.

Step 7
Copyright Protection Center of China evaluates the application. You may be requested to make modifications. When further clarifications are required, you will have an additional two-month period to complete the procedure.

Step 8
Copyright Protection Center of China issues the certificate for approved registrations and make announcement on its website for public knowledge.

Fees

Fee will be determined by the authority according to the type of work but are generally between RMB 20-260. For example,

  • EUR 20 for written, oral work of 100-5,000 words
  • EUR 65 for engineering designs, product designs, maps, schematic diagrams, model works 
  • EUR 195 for architectural works
  • EUR 260 for multimedia compilations.

Further expedition normally requires payment of extra official fees. Maintenance of the copyright registration requires no annuity fees.

Additional measures

An effective way to prevent any illicit goods from entering or leaving China is to get your Chinese registered copyright recorded with the General Administration of Customs. This is done online in Chinese and you shall use a local authorized lawyer. The approval process at General Administration of Customs typically takes 30 working days and will be valid for 10 years.

Takeaways

China signed the international treaty that protects copyrights in 1992 and has since then implemented a well-functioning copyright system.

Copyright infringement is a risk that can easily be mitigated through China’s voluntary registration system in approximately 30 days.

Witness evidence generally carries lower evidential weight than documentary evidence such as copyright registration certificates.


Background

China signed the international treaty (Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works) that protects copyrights in 1992 and has since then maintained local copyright legislation to regulate copyrights. In general, copyright protection is granted for 50 years from the date of creation or publication whereas to companies (lifetime of the creator plus 50 years for individuals).

Although copyright according to the treaty is protected automatically upon the creation of an original work without the need for registration, we highly recommended that foreign entities register copyrights immediately and prior to doing business in China. This partly prevents competition to register equivalent intellectual property and simplifies the infringement and enforcement process.