Loopholes in Trademark Registration Procedure

German trademark registration procedure makes it easy to register malicious trademarks. When checking on an application for trademark registration the German Patent and Trademark Office (DPMA) does not conduct an in-depth research on similar registered trademarks. New trademarks are registered after only a formal examination. Chinese counterfeiters capitalize on that loophole: they register malicious trademarks, which are very similar or nearly identical to trademarks registered by European companies.

This strategy is used by Chinese counterfeiters to legitimate exporting their fakes to Germany. Back in China, they can use the trademark certificate issued by a German authority to justify their malicious trademark registrations in China. The German certificate makes it significant easier for the Chinese counterfeiter to defend himself against the original manufacturer in course of litigation at a Chinese court.

German trademark owners should be alert and regularly check relevant databases for suspicious trademark applications by Chinese companies. It is important to also check on figurative trademarks and trademarks consisting of Chinese characters, which could be a phonetical or analogous translation of a German trademark. Common monitoring tools often neglect these aspects or are simply not apt to conduct this kind of research.

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