Seb Francis is one our VSU Ambassadors, and the Co-founder of Titus Learning. His company provides online learning solutions to schools all around the world. Having visited China numerous times over the past 2 years, and establishing an early foothold, he shares some of things he’s learnt about doing business in China. This is the third in our series of posts. Read more about how to get started exporting to China, and the importance of meetings when exporting to China.
I think it’s safe to say this is the first blog post I’ve written at 40,000ft, but it’s getting the creative juices flowing - so hopefully it’s not the last!
To date we’ve covered how you can assess whether China is the place for you, and how to take those next steps in terms of visiting, establishing partnerships, and seeing what sales routes are available. We’re now going to move onto what are probably seen as some of the more ‘boring’ areas of cracking China, but also some of the most important if you want to avoid being stung in the long run.
It’s no secret the Chinese are pretty good at knocking out a copy or two…or ‘genuine fakes’ as you may know them by if you’ve ever found yourself down a marketplace looking at ‘Rollexes’. However it doesn’t stop at handbags and watches; the risk of having your brand identity used is very real. Therefore it’s vital that you register your brand and/or trademark in China at the earliest possible point. Ideally this would be done as soon as you have decided that China is a market you would like to enter. It will cost you roughly £2,000 to fully go through the process of registering your trademark, but once this process has been started you have the protection you need. If this is not done, and you’re unfortunate enough to have an individual or company use your branding, then it could cost upwards of £50,000, or you'll be facing the reality that you’ll never be able to use it. As quoted a couple of times in the previous posts, CBBC are a great place to contact to find out more about this, and put you in touch with the right people.
Not only do you need to consider registering your trademark to protect yourself, you also need to think of how your brand translates and will be understood in China. This includes the logo, colouring, name, etc. It should be close enough to your current brand and name, whilst representing what you do, and having the correct connotations. One great example of this is Coca-Cola who found a close phonetic equivalent, “kekou kele”, which roughly means "let your mouth rejoice”. The British Library can help with trademarking and may be a good resource to look at for both trademarking in the UK and overseas. They also run a number of courses in person.
Now on to the Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) and patents - depending on your business type you may or may not have IPR or a patent over what you provide. However if you do, which is the case for most software and product based companies, you will need to ensure your patent and/or IPR covers you in China (and any other countries you work in for that matter). China’s IP laws generally match those international standards and if managed correctly and timely, you should be able to avoid most issues. As with trademarking, you should look to register as soon as possible. Where you are seeking the assistance of a law firm, look for one that has past experience working in China and with firms looking to work in China.
So I hope that helps you get started whilst doing business in China!
That’s the last post in this small series, but I hope to write more in the coming months. If anyone has any specific questions, comments or other topics they’d like to see covered, I’d love to hear from you. It’s easiest to catch me on Twitter - I'm @sebfrancis1.
All the best, and good luck!
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