Protecting design and innovation in China

Submitted by Imogen Allan on 01 June 2021

In China, innovative technology used in consumer products can be protected under invention or design patents. Despite this, businesses illegally use innovations in knock-off products, particularly when patents are still pending.

It is therefore beneficial to think about ways to convince potential customers in China that your goods are the best on the market. Updating designs can serve to compliment technical innovation and keep a product ahead of those trying to emulate or imitate.

Case study

Vogmask is a popular anti-pollution mask product available in China which uses an innovative microfibre filtration fabric.

Christopher Dobbing founded Vogmask China in 2013. Originally an education consultant, he found that most students he worked with mentioned air pollution as a major challenge for China in the next 10 years, and that many of them had breathing illnesses or carried an inhaler with them. While searching for a good quality mask that he could recommend to students, Christopher got in touch with Vogmask USA. Vogmask UK and Vogmask China were founded shortly after.

Not long after its market entry, Vogmask found counterfeits on the Chinese online retail platform ‘Taobao’.

Christopher explains that “We monitor the market carefully and conduct a weekly online check. There are two types of items we need to deal with online: the first is cheap copies of our masks, the second is unlicensed imports of real products, meaning that the seller imported the goods illegally in order to avoid paying 17% import tax.”

Through the EU SME Centre, Christopher got in touch with the Helpdesk, who provided information on how infringing goods can be taken down from e-commerce sites in China.

He details that his company registered our trademark in China immediately when we entered the market, but as registration processes in China can take quite some time, we are still awaiting our trademark registration certificate. We need this certificate to prove to Taobao that we own the brand, and only then can we start with the takedown procedure of infringing products”.

Read the full case study below.

The China IPR SME Helpdesk supports small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) from European Union (EU) member states to protect and enforce their Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) in or relating to China, Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan, through the provision of free information and services. The Helpdesk provides jargon-free, first-line, confidential advice on intellectual property and related issues, along with training events, materials, and online resources. Individual SMEs and SME intermediaries can submit their IPR queries via email (question [at] ()) and gain access to a panel of experts, in order to receive free and confidential first-line advice within three working days.

The China IPR SME Helpdesk is an initiative by the European Union.

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