How to prevent counterfeiting in Healthcare in China: our top management strategies

How to prevent counterfeiting in Healthcare in China: our top management strategies

In the healthcare industry, patient safety is a fundamental principle and responsibility - the risk of counterfeiting is therefore a significant consideration of consumer health, OTC or pharmaceutical manufacturers whose permission to trade rests on their ability to prioritise the well-being and safety of patients in all aspects of their operations.  

The question is: how to deliver this in a market where IP infringement is a well-documented challenge?  

In our experience, there are two categories of activity that offer the best protection and deterrent to any prospective copycats – legal deterrents and brand protection. Below we break down the different aspects of each and how we approach this.  

Legal deterrents – defensive strategies 

  • Conduct a trademark search: Before entering the Chinese market, we conduct a comprehensive trademark search to ensure your brand name or logo is not already registered by someone else in China. This search will help you identify potential conflicts and allow you to make informed decisions about your brand's uniqueness. 
  • Register your trademark in China: Once we have conducted the trademark search, we file a trademark application with the China National Intellectual Property Administration (CNIPA). This registration is essential for protecting your brand and preventing others from using it in China. 
  • Consider multiple-class applications: In China, trademark protection is categorized by classes of goods and services. We determine the relevant classes for your business and consider filing applications in multiple classes to provide comprehensive protection for your brand. 
  • Monitor and enforce your trademark rights: Once your trademark is registered, we actively monitor the market for any potential infringement. Monitor e-commerce platforms, physical stores, and trade fairs for unauthorized use of your brand. If you find any infringements, take prompt legal action to protect your rights. 
  • Record your trademark with Chinese Customs: To prevent counterfeit goods from being exported or imported, we record your trademark with Chinese Customs. This allows Chinese customs to identify and seize counterfeit products bearing your brand at the borders. 
  • Stay informed and adapt: Intellectual property laws and regulations can evolve, so it's essential we stay updated on changes in the legal landscape. Regular consultation with our trademark lawyer allows us to keep track of industry best practices to ensure ongoing brand protection. 

Brand protections – attacking strategies 

  • Brand integrity: Building a well-managed business with formal trade channels and consistent branding and pricing structures remains, in our view, one of the strongest protections. Consistency with customers creates trust, and recognition for what you represent. A mismanaged sales structure will often struggle to keep consistency in front of consumers, which is where counterfeit finds opportunity.  
  • Online vigilance and monitoring: In addition to monitoring physical marketplaces, we monitor online platforms, social media, and websites for any unauthorized use of your brand. We also register your brand with online marketplaces to ensure your brand is included in their anti-counterfeiting programs. 
  • Maintain good industry relationships: We have strong relationships with Chinese distributors, manufacturers, and partners who help us protect your brand. This is why it is important to choose a reliable and reputable business partner who respects intellectual property rights and is committed to protecting your brand. 

What next?

If you’re a self-care brand looking to establish a market in China, or accelerate growth in this market, but have questions about how to do this while managing risks around counterfeit, there are lots of tools and resources that we can support with. We understand your risk. Give us a call or send us an email and let’s talk.