As economic interchange between South Korea and China has expanded, an increasing number of Chinese companies are trying to register trademarks in South Korea, showing their ambitions to break into the Korean market.
According to the Korea Intellectual Property Office (KIPO), the number of Chinese companies trying to register a trademark in South Korea has increased from 1,238 in 2010 to 1,665 in 2011 and 2,324 in 2013. That’s a 137.9 percent increase since 2010, while the average among all foreign countries was just 42.4 percent.
Electronics and communication equipment were among the most notable industries for Chinese companies. A total of 2,344 applications were received last year in this industry, including from well known Chinese companies like Alibaba and Huawei.
Besides electronics and communication equipment, there were 2,170 applications for fashion products received, along with 1,076 applications for mechanic parts.
China amended its own trademark law in August of last year as it increasingly recognizes the importance of intellectual property rights. The revised law enables China to nurture global brands by strengthening the protection of brand names.
“China will not remain as a country ripping off everything,” said Park Seong-jun, a director at KIPO. “South Korean companies should put more efforts in nurturing global brands as the competition is expected to become fierce with China’s recent move.”
In fact, South Korean companies also are eagerly trying to break into the Chinese market as well.
KIPO’s data reveals that South Korean companies have submitted 26,950 international applications to register their trademarks since 2003. Some 2,494 of these were submitted in China, making China the most attractive destination for South Korean companies to register trademarks. China was followed by the United States and Japan, and those three nations are notably South Korea’s top three export markets.
Meanwhile, there was a meeting this summer between South Korean and Chinese officials about trademark rights.
In the meeting, the two countries agreed to share information on protecting trademark rights and data about trademark infringement. In addition, they pledged to hold more meetings about the issue in the future.
These meetings are expected to make it easier for the two countries to register trademarks in each other’s countries, especially as the two countries will be able to check trademark-related information before they actually submit the application.
“The meeting has a lot of meaning especially since it was held after the Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Seoul with the improved Sino-Korean relations,” said Kim Young-min, commissioner of KIPO. He added that the environment of protecting trademark rights will be enhanced as well with the meeting.