Trademark is crucial not only in today’s world. Did you know the 1st trademark users are Romans who need  a ™ for their swords?

 

Everyone talks about ™, is it really necessary? A REAL need?

Getting a trademark for your business or not is definitely a personal choice but we have to say sometimes your business name or appearance of your product is probably one of the most valuable assets for you. In this blog we will walk you through what trademark can do for your company and the workflow + tips of trademark application in HK. Ready for safeguarding your names / products that could be the swords of your company?

 

 

What Can Trademark Do for You?

Trademark, the mark “™” is usually used for distinguishing products and services of a particular company / an individual owner from those of others in the market.

Yet, bear in mind that the HK Companies Registry and HK Trade Marks Registry are 2 different authorities. Some of my clients would often get confused with these two departments but I have always reminded them having the company registered does not mean it would automatically register for your trademark or you will be entitled to any trademark rights.

In other words, if you would like to enjoy the exclusive right to use your company’s name or logo, it is inevitable to get a trademark, by which you can use it in relation to the products / services / inventions of yours and it will save you a lot of hassles when your products or services provision get more popular in time. Actually some clients might come to me late (they just ignored this part from the start and suddenly remembered after a couple of years of the incorporation), then found out their business / product name has already been taken by others in their preferred category (i.e. a class of trademark, like machine tools; cooking; telecommunications; etc.) and so they couldn’t register in that category now. It is cruel to see how the businesses may have just ignored the importance of trademark and suffered from the plagiarising behaviour at the end, realising they should have taken this step earlier. We hope you are not one of those who paid a huge cost here.

Talking about the exclusive trademark right, many people may mix up “™” and  “®”. Generally, the “™” symbol can be used either or not the trademark is registered.  But the “®” symbol means this trademark is a registered one, and you are entitled to the exclusive trademark right provided by the Trade Marks Registry. In other words, by obtaining this right, your company can then apply the “®” symbol next to your company’s name or logo as an identification. You can take legal actions against any parties that violate the trademark law, such as using your trademark without your consent / agreement. This could set a firewall from anyone who may be tempted to take your trademark’s benefits (could be company name, products, inventions, ideas, etc).

 

Be the First-Mover in Your Market?

Moreover, having a trademark can also be a first-mover advantage for your company, for you can easily dominate the market if you have a newly-invented product or service. Any newcomers would then be hard to get an identical trademark anytime soon. In essence, it gives you a chance to become the market leader if you act quickly with the trademark registration.

To share some latest trends with you, according to our experience, if a HK company owns a registered trademark, it will become a whole lot easier to cooperate with her mainland China partners because those Chinese companies tend to believe you are a reputable company and they are willing to pay extra for your products / services, which makes the whole trademark registration very worthwhile as it just costs you less than HK$100 per month for owning the 10-years trademark right.

 

Easy-to-Prepare Materials for Registration

Before kicking off the registration, simply provide us with 4 basic information below:-

• The trademark you would like to register graphically

• What products / services are to be covered by this trademark? (i.e. the trademark class, like food for babies; hygienic and beauty care; etc.)

• Would you like an official search / non-official search first? (such a search is for ensuring your trademark is available for registration)

• Information of the trademark’s owner

Simple as that!

 

Just 5 Steps for HK Trademark Registration

Trademark registration sounds complicated yet it is not as hard as you thought. Just pass us the above 4 materials, and our experienced advisor will guide you step by step throughout the whole process, whether you are a local or overseas firm. Here we’ll give you some ideas about the steps:-

1. File the Application

Gather all necessary information of your product / creations / services and we will assist you in submitting the application. Generally the whole application procedure can take as little as 6 months.

2. Deficiencies Checking

The Trade Marks Registry will conduct a thorough check on the application and provided documents. The authority will get in touch with us if further information is required.

3. Search and Examination

The Trade Marks Registry will then perform a proper search to see if any identical or similar trademark has already been registered. The authority will also review and see if the submitted trademark is proper and fits the Trademark Ordinance’s requirements.

4. Objections (There might or might not be one)

If anyhow the requirements are not met, the Trade Marks Registry has the authority to object the application. Yet, applicants are granted with 6 months for amendments in order to meet the requirements.

5. Registration

Once your trademark has been accepted for registration, it will be published in the Hong Kong Intellectual Property Journal. If no opposition by a 3rd party is made, the Trade Marks Registry will enter your trademark into the trademarks register and you will be issued with a certificate of registration, meanwhile the notice of the registration will be published in the Journal too. As the owner of a registered trademark, your rights take effect from the filing date of the application, which allow you to use for 10 years.

 

Finally, How to Make Your Trademark Stand Out?

A trademark is not simply a company or business name, it can be a group of elements joined together like logo, image, symbol, etc. Now we are going to give you some hints on creating a distinctive trademark:-

- Be creative, you have to put a little effort into thinking about the uniqueness of your trademark, for instance, in food industry, using “MEAT FOOD” instead of “MEET FOOD” would give the Trade Marks Registry a huge reason to object your application since the chance of getting a similar trademark is massive.

- No description on the products in terms of quantity or quality like “100 Chicken Wings” or “Quality Chicken Wings”.

- No geographical name like “Milano Fashion”.

- Use your invented product name would be the best since as it would most likely be innovative.

 

If you are not sure whether you are having a trademark idea similar with others, come check with us, I am Cherry from the Trademark Team and I will apply my expertise to help you speed up and ease up the application process. It would be my great pleasure to walk you through how to make it done and give you my instant answers to smoothen your journey.

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While Hong Kong remains the most economically free city out of hundred of countries, most savvy businessmen would equip themselves to be able to play around within the ‘rules’ and make the most of it. Also, sometimes troubles just came without any signs. In view of this, a free legal consultation session targeting start-ups / SMEs arranged by our experienced solicitor partner is now on BRIDGES. Sounds attractive, huh?

 

 

How Is It Helping?

Making good use of the free legal consultation will turn out to save a whole-lot of time for you. You wouldn’t want to waste your time while you are dealing with arduous legal matters, and all you hoped for is to get the right attorney as quickly as possible. But how do you know if you get the right candidate? We think a free consultation could definitely help you decide whether the attorney is capable to address your needs, plus you will get a brief idea of how to handle your case with some useful information that you need.

 

What’s in It for Me?

Legal affairs could be a shield or a spear to your business. By having a competent attorney who can help you address your legal matters timely and efficiently, you can sit back and find peace of mind that your issues are in good hands. Sometimes the attorney may even be able to help set a strong “shield” to protect your business in advance so you can constantly move faster than your rivals.

 

Come register a free legal consultation arrangement with us HERE. Opportunity is yours to take!

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From time to time some clients will come to us and ask whether they have to get a Working Visa when visiting HK for just a week or two. We always answer: “it really depends on your purpose coming here”. In general there are two main purposes: 1. tourist travelling and 2. working or investing, and if your visit involves any ‘work’ elements, a Working Visa is essential. 

If you are catching up with the recent news, you might know a British rock band was detained by the HK police because they did not get the right permit to perform in a show (BBC News: bbc.in/2qUkXhx), which had become a good alert for all of us. Now let’s take a look at a few cases together, and we hope through the tips outlined here, you all know under what circumstances you need a work permit, and which type of permit suits you better.

 

 

Faced These Common Situations Before?

CASE 1: “I run an offshore software company. Recently, our company has launched a new system software and one of my technicians will go to HK to help install the software in offices, as well as brief our HK staff on the software features. Does he need a HK Working Visa? Since he is not a HK citizen.

ANSWER: Exactly, “he is not a HK citizen” that is also why he will NEED a work permit to stay in HK for business related purpose. According to the General Employment Policy, for those who come to HK for employment or involving other business activities as professionals, a Working Visa is required. Even for some expat SME clients who are sent to HK for regular stocktake (e.g. diamond stock check) or training provision, they have to apply for the Working Visa too.

So if you are the employer, you are obligated to apply for work permit for your employees under any circumstances that involve professional knowledge or its application in workplace.

 

CASE 2: “I am a British resident and run a restaurant in the UK. I will be heading to the HK franchise to promote a new dish, also to host a short cooking class exclusively for our VIP clients. This will only be a one-time thing and takes only a day. Do I need to apply for an official work permit for that?

ANSWER: Similar to CASE 1, if you are not a HK permanent resident nor having the right of abode in HK, yet possess special skills and will apply your skills for certain achievements or work purposes here, you will need a Working Visa. Just like the British band who got detained for not having the work permit, they were delivering work to a firm indeed for performing in the band show. As such, hosting a cooking class, playing gigs, exhibiting your own artwork as invited artists, performing magic or singing in a company’s organized show, modelling, etc - all these kinds of cultural and artistic communications are actually work delivered to a company and so you will need to get an official work permit in advance, even if your work is unpaid or for charity purpose.

 

CASE 3: “On behalf of the company, I’ve got invited to be the guest speaker of a seminar / workshop / talk in HK but it only lasts 1-2 days, must I apply for a Working Visa for that?

ANSWER: Guess what... the answer is still YES. Though we know you are not making any profits in HK and you just come here to “share” your personal insights / thoughts / knowledge, etc. with the attendees, this kind of professional knowledge sharing counts as a type of training purpose under the HK legal system so you would need a Working Visa for carrying out such training, whether the seminar or workshop requires admission fees or not.

 

Types of HK Working Visa

There are different types of HK Working Visa (details please refer here). Just to give you a general idea for the Employment Visa vs. Investment as Entrepreneurs Visa - For Employment Visa, the applicants should already have an offered position in HK which could be not be replaced by the local labour market; for Investment as Entrepreneurs Visa, the applicants should be the owner of a business, planning to be stationed in HK for managing the business.

For those who come to HK for a rather short period of time (not more than 1 year) and do not have much working experience / qualifications, they could choose to apply for a Working Holiday Visa, which is easier to apply and suitable for young applicants.

If you are non-local / mainland graduates who decided to extend your stay in HK and maybe even develop your career path here, there is a visa type named Immigration Arrangement for Non-local Graduates (a.k.a. IANG) for you to continue your professional venture in HK and work under the IANG scheme.

There are some other visa types like Dependant Visa (for a spouse and even unmarried dependent child to reside in HK), Training Visa (for trainees to be trained in a HK reputable company) and more. How to know which visa type suits you best and you won’t waste time queuing up for an inappropriate line of visa application? It is suggested you should talk to an experienced counsellor who can provide tactical advice and guidance along the way, facilitating your process, increasing the success rate and making sure you are on the right track.

 

Why Need Consultation? It’s Just Visa... Not Straight Forward?

When applying for an immigration permit like Working Visa that has a set of eligibility criteria, it is much better to get a middleman like an agency to help you communicate with the Government Officers and precisely fulfill their specific requirements by accumulated valuable experience. Especially if you belongs to a whole new case, submitting your application through an agency is definitely worthwhile to do, given that the cost of failure is something you may not be able to afford.

For example, how do you know which visa type could be the easiest for you to apply?  How long should you expect to wait before you can get your visa (meaning the ‘real’ time here, not the rough time stated in the Government website)? How do you know if your qualifications are enough or not to extend you a high chance of successful application? Etc. etc. 

You might not know but applying the Working Visa could be like picking the right supplement for your body, there are different factors to consider and it is very personal. So if you are not definite about your case, why not check with the professionals before applying? In fact, if you have applied for the wrong type of visa and got refused finally, it would become quite difficult to appeal the case (in view of the immigration practice that this disapproval record will be archived in your file from the moment the case is refused).

Provided that our team has over 10 years of experience in helping Working Visa clients get the permit successfully, BRIDGES might be the one you are looking for. And for you to know whether your case background is strong and what tactics you should use, we are pleased to provide a face-to-face / video call / phone consultation on your visa application so you will know what is your BEST way to move.

 

Can I Apply for Work Visa a Week Before My Trip?

Unfortunately the answer this time is a big NO. According to our experience, the processing time of a work permit application takes at least 4 weeks and this period is just for paperwork assessment only. In order to prevent the embarrassed situation of getting ready to work but without a visa, please contact a reliable agency as early as possible to kick start all preparation work at an early stage, no matter how long you will work in HK.

 

What If I... Don’t Really Know Where to Start?

Sometimes people might think getting an official Working Visa is a complicated or problematic process so they tend to overlook it. However, it could be more troublesome if you decide to work in HK (whether for a short term or long term position) without a work permit and then get caught at the end. Not only you might enter into a criminal offense and face prosecution, but also bear a bad record that makes it even harder to apply for an official permit next time. We hope this article can address most of your queries and like what we always said, it is definitely better to ponder beforehand and work it out “together”.

So talk to an experienced visa counsellor today if you have any further questions on applying the HK Visas. Feel free to shoot us an email at info@bridges.hk anytime for precise advice or appointment making with our proficient visa team. Or, simply drop us a private message to start chatting with our advisors who will swiftly answer your queries and save your hassles whenever possible before the application starts.

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