In China, there are two different legal systems which are used for the protection of GIs: (1) the trademark system established by the China Trademark Office (CTMO), now under the China National Intellectual Property Administration (CNIPA); and (2) a sui generis protection system.
The sui generis protection system itself is two-pronged: (1) the regulation promulgated by the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ), which is now being revised by the CNIPA, which concerns “GI products” in general; and (2) the regulation promulgated by the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA), now Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs (MARA), which only applies to Agricultural GIs.
Foreign GIs, are protected even if they are not registered in China, as shown by the case CIVC v. Seven Star. Article 16 of the Trademark Law allows the holder of a GI to request a People’s Court to order an infringer to stop the production and sale of a product bearing infringing name/labelling. Furthermore, the foreign GI holder finds in the Trademark Law (Articles 10.1.7 and 10.2) other remedial approaches to oppose the application, obtain the invalidation, or stop the illegal use of a trademark identical with or similar to its GI.
However, being registered as a collective trademark allows the GI holder to benefit more from the enforcement: the entire “arsenal” of the trademark law, customs regulations, criminal law, is at its disposal. The GI holder may, not only, seek administrative actions against an infringer, but also obtain financial compensation. Cases cited above prove that the protection is effective, even if obtaining satisfactory results requires significant efforts from the GI holder.
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