The Evolution of Well-Known Trademark Protection in China

UoM administered thesis: Phd

  • Authors:
  • Xiao Mu


China has put considerable emphasis on protecting intellectual property (IP) rights since it implemented 'Reform and Opening-Up' policy in the late 1970s. The nation has actively participated in communication and cooperation with its trading partners and international society in IP region. In particular, since its accession to the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property (Paris Convention) in 1985, China has reformed its socialist legal system to meet international obligations. This trend continued with China's entry to the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPS) under the World Trade Organization (WTO) in late 2001. A well-known trademark is a trademark well known by the relevant public. Compared to a common trademark, it will be given higher level of protection against infringements. A well-established well-known trademark legal framework can considerably protect interests of owners of domestic and foreign well-known trademarks. China begun to offer such protection since the 1980s. During the pre-WTO period, it granted well-known status determination on an ad-hoc basis under a 'Sole-Track' model which was solely led by administrative authorities. This model has been considered to be weak and offered no systematic protection to well-known trademark holders. China's admission to the WTO in 2001 pushed the country to create a 'Dual-Track' model which incorporates judicial and administrative authorities and to amend its IP laws in compliance with the international norms. Since then, the situation of well-known trademark protection has been considerably improved, although some problems remained. There is, however, widespread criticism in the US government and from some scholars that the IP laws in China governing well-known trademarks are inadequate. However, this is not necessarily accurate, as it is based not on comprehensive legal analysis but on the data mainly collected from interested parties of the US side, whether they are companies or government officials, or a fragment of cases.This thesis adopted doctrinal legal research method to demonstrate and evaluate some substantial legal principles, concepts, rules and policy concerning well-known trademark recognition and protection in China over the past three decades (1985 - 2015). It challenged that criticism by raising four questions and exploring their answers. The legal analysis in this thesis showed that since the 2000s, China has protected well-known trademarks more effectively than before. In conclusion, although some problems remain to be solved, the criticism above should be rejected. Meanwhile, this thesis also offered suggestions of further development, highlighted the need for the competent authorities to continue to reform the laws and policy, and strengthen their enforcement in order to tackle unsolved problems.


Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • David Booton (Supervisor)
Award date1 Aug 2017