China Approves NFT and Metaverse Trademarks, Breaking Tradition


  • The Chinese Trademark Office has approved trademarks linked to NFTs and metaverse services.
  • This shift contrasts with China’s earlier stance, which focused only on standard goods and services.
  • Traditionally, the Office had a conservative approach and was slow to adapt to digital advancements.

The Trademark Office of the China National Intellectual Property Administration (Chinese Trademark Office) has approved several trademark applications associated with non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and metaverse services. This decision stands in contrast to China’s previous position, which leaned toward recognizing only standard goods and services.

Historically, the Office showed a preference for standard items and services approved in advance for national trademark applications. Additionally, it was slow to integrate new digital and virtual offerings. However, this recent change hints at a more accommodating approach, albeit perhaps temporary. The approvals might act as a precedent before the Office settles on a definitive list of standard digital and virtual goods and services.

Major luxury watch brands, including TISSOT, LONGINES, and RADO, are among the first beneficiaries of this decision. They secured registrations for marks directly filed as national applications. Notably, this is encouraging for U.S. companies. The Chinese trademark system doesn’t necessitate actual use before registration. Moreover, a Chinese national registration isn’t contingent on U.S. registration, unlike the stipulations of the Madrid Protocol.

A closer look at the accepted applications suggests the Office has granted some leeway in descriptions. For instance, Coty’s registration for its nail polish brand, SALLY HANSEN, is particularly detailed. It covers “downloadable computer software for creating, producing, and modifying digital animated and non-animated designs and characters,” a description notably lengthier than typical Chinese registrations.

However, this newfound flexibility might not be permanent. It’s plausible that the Chinese Trademark Office could return to its original stringent requirements. Hence, U.S. applicants must remain vigilant, consulting the list of approved goods and services for their filings.

The Chinese government’s intent to promote domestic digital tokens and NFT transaction platforms adds another layer to this development. It’s crucial to determine how and where these marks should be used under Chinese trademark law. This is especially pertinent to avoid potential non-use cancellation challenges.