CTMO Refines Examination of Non-use Cancellation Actions

In 2020, the average number of monthly trademark applications in China reached 775,000. It is expected that the figure has exceeded 800,000 in 2021. With the increase in the number of trademark applications, non-use cancellation actions (NUCs) have also soared. A NUC is an administrative procedure that can be taken by any entity or individual when a registered trademark has not been put in use for three consecutive years without a justifiable reason. NUCs are generally adopted by applicants as a means to overcome the cited marks that block their own trademark applications.

After a NUC is filed, the China Trademark Office (CTMO) will notify the trademark registrant and require that evidence of use for the past three years be submitted within two months. Before 2022, the examination of the evidence of use was quite lax. For a trademark registered in several subclasses, the registrant only needs to submit evidence of use for one subclass or two to maintain the trademark registration in all the subclasses it covers. Under such circumstances, if the petitioner of the NUC wants to get the registration canceled in other subclasses, he will have to lodge an appeal before the Trademark Review and Adjudication Board (TRAB). The TRAB will carefully review the evidence of use and match it against all the subclasses, and cancel the trademark registration on those subclasses for which the registrant fails to provide evidence of use. This explains why 70–90% of trademark registrations are canceled in appeals before the TRAB. In fact, they should have been canceled by the CTMO if the CTMO reviews the evidence of use in a stricter manner.