Who should be the trademark applicant?

If your trademark application goes through the examination of China Trademark Office, and your trademark is successfully registered in China, the trademark applicant will become the trademark owner in China. So it is important to choose the proper person/entity to be the trademark applicant (the future trademark owner) in China. Otherwise, you may have to spend extra money to do a trademark assignment in the future.

According to Chinese laws, the trademark applicant can either be a foreign individual person or a foreign company. If you are running a small business, it is up to you to decide whether your trademark should be registered in your personal name or in the name of your company. Large companies usually prefer to register the trademarks in the company name to facilitate trademark portfolio management and the trademark license. For example, the trademark “Andrew Lloyd Webber” is registered in the name of Mr. Webber’s company, Really Useful Group, rather than his own name.

No matter how many companies you have, you should try to always register your trademarks in the name of the same company rather than letting various companies to hold your trademarks. This is not only bad for the trademark portfolio management, sometimes it could cause you bigger trouble: the trademark registered in the name of one of your companies could block the trademark application filed by the other company of yours because they are similar to each other. This is because according to Chinese laws, similar trademarks can only be registered by the same person/entity. Different persons/entities are not allowed to register similar trademarks even if they are affiliated to each other.