Crypto Logos and China – Harris Bricken Sliwoski LLP

Crypto logos are a no-go in China. In step with the nation’s prohibitions on cryptocurrencies, the China Nationwide Mental Property Administration (CNIPA) will not register logos that describe crypto items and/or companies. Manufacturers within the crypto area 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 logos that describe crypto items and/or companies are being rejected by CNIPA. At first look, these rejections would seem like in keeping with China’s Trademark Legislation. Article 10(i)(7) prohibits the registration of logos “detrimental to socialist morality or customs, or having different unhealthy influences.” Apparently, nevertheless, CNIPA doesn’t at all times 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 Legislation’s prohibition in opposition to descriptive marks. We have now additionally seen cases the place CNIPA solely cites the procedural sections of the Trademark Legislation.

It’s potential that CNIPA, or no less than a few of its examiners, don’t view crypto logos as inherently violative of Article 10(i)(7), and as an alternative apply a standalone prohibition in opposition to crypto. Maybe aware of the truth that sooner or later the authorities might resolve to take a softer stance on crypto, CNIPA might not need to go as far as to label it detrimental. CNIPA will typically cite Article 10(i)(7), however within the circumstances we’ve got seen thus far, 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 just isn’t going to be registered, no matter what number of and/or which Trademark Legislation articles are cited. As Deng Xiaoping mentioned, “Regardless of if it’s a white cat or a black cat; so long as it will possibly 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 means that makes them prone to move muster for a China trademark. For one, this implies avoiding phrases comparable to “cryptocurrency”.

To be clear, the concept right here is to not attempt to pull the wool over CNIPA’s eyes. Somewhat, it’s to keep away from conditions the place Web3 know-how and companies which have purposes that reach past crypto are outlined too narrowly, in a means that deprives the model of trademark safety.

On this sense, manufacturers must be significantly 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 logos is a textbook instance of a state of affairs the place a model would need to do this.

For sure, so long as China’s prohibition on crypto stands, nobody must be stepping into that enterprise in China. Manufacturers within the wider Web3 area, alternatively, ought to take care to make sure that references to crypto don’t jeopardize the safety of their logos that additionally (or completely) describe items and/or companies that aren’t associated to crypto.