By Ding Xianjie Cecilia Lou and Yao Di  King and Wood Mallesons’ Intellectual Property Group  Shanghai Office

On December 14, 2012, the China Trademark Office issued a Notice on Adding Trademark Specifications on Retail and Distribution Service Trademark. In this Notice, the CTMO specifies that “Retail and Distribution Service for pharmaceutical, veterinary, sanitary and medical goods” will be added in Class 35 of the Revision of 10th Edition of Goods and Services Classifications in China, and the new Revision will be effective dated January 1, 2013.

According to the Notice, the newly expanded service will not be deemed as similar to pharmaceutical goods. Also, the services are also different from prior “Distribution for others” in Class 35.

Before the Notice, the CTMO always rejects trademark applications on retail, wholesale services. Companies generally rely on registering trademark in “distribution for others” to try to cover their retail or wholesale business in China. However, this rule denied this practice and open trademark registration in medicine retail and wholesale service. Therefore, the failure of registering such trademark will lead the pharmaceutical distribution companies in great danger of losing their trademarks in China.

In light of this, all the pharmaceutical companies, especially those who have pharmaceutical retail and wholesale business in China, are highly recommended to register their trademark in China by adding the goods in the transitional period as soon as possible, either for use or defense.

For all the other companies in the business of retail and wholesales, it is recommended to keep an eye on the trend and apply trademark in this Group 3509 of Class 35 (If Group 3509 covers general retail and wholesale business).