Have you heard of trademark squatters?
Just saw a scary news the other day, talked about an Australian start-up dairy company’s trademark had been stolen in China even before trademark has been advertised to the public.
Years ago, when I start to help people to apply for the China trademark reregistration, occasionally I will find some trademark squatter registered some famous international brand.
But for the past years, the situation get worse, more and more people find it very profitable and those squatters are getting more skilled (e.g they know they have reserved the evidence to avoid the trademark been cancel due to non-use of a trademark for three consecutive years ) and now they are even more capable of finding brands all over the world.
There are kinds of ways of how the squatter operate:
1. They will apply for a similar or an identical trademark to block the way. If there is a pre-existing trademark, yours won’t be approved. Years ago, there is squatter try to charge me for millions CNY to retrieve a trademark. (well, he didn’t get a penny from us and we get the trademark back by file the cancellation of the squatter’s trademark.!!!! )
2. They will file the application at the product you miss to register or the product you are likely to develop in the future, if your brand is for clothing then they may register in purse, jewelry or another related item
I had encountered a squatter register over 200 trademarks on a shell corporation. And a case that a clothing factory in China apply over 100 trademarks (all relate to clothing) and after we won the case, the shareholder files the applications again and they don’t even bother to change the trademark registration address. And a case that the OEM factory takes advantage of their client to register their client’s trademark, etc…. Cases like this are is just tip of the iceberg.
Literally, those squatter just sit on trademarks and wait for the mark owner to knock on the door. It will take time (usually years ) and a lot of your energy to deal with it and will cost much more than just to apply for a trademark registration at the very beginning.
The best way to prevent becoming a victim here is always to remember to make your trademark part of your business plan. If you are planning to step into any market abroad or planning to advertise on the internet, the first step is to register your trademark, if someone does it before you did, your will to be choked by your own trademark.