HONG KONG: Chinese businesses are taking steps to protect their brands in their domestic market and around the world, according to a new analysis of trademark data which notes a "major transformation" in attitudes on the issue.

A report from trademark search company Thomson Reuters CompuMark – Chinese Brands Go Global: Best Practices for Global Brand Expansion from China – found a sharp rise international trademarks being filed by Chinese firms in other jurisdictions around the world.

In the past five years, this total increased 84% to reach a total of 35,637. Over the years from 1990, the rise was 4,700%.

Linda Guo, managing director, Thomson Reuters, China IP & Science, said trademark filing data was a reliable guide to global brand trends and suggested that a tipping point had been reached in the growth of Chinese multinational brands.

"It's no surprise that 73 of the Fortune Global 500 list, featuring the world's largest companies, are from China," she observed.

Overall, China now ranks seventh in the work in terms of foreign trademark filings, the report said, behind the US, Japan, Germany, Hong Kong, the UK and France.

And it is far ahead of similar emerging markets, having in 2007 passed the combined total of countries like India, Brazil, Russia and Turkey, whose current international trademark filing amounts to just over 20,000.

"'Made in China' is becoming 'Created in China'," said Yongbo Li, a senior partner with Unitalen Attorneys at Law in Beijing, "but we still have a lot of work to do to educate Chinese businesses on how to make use of their famous brands and protect their rights when encountered with infringement".

Chinese businesses are becoming increasingly serious about global trademark strategy as they begin to acquire western firms and inherit intellectual property (IP) rights and as they design their own products rather than simply fulfilling orders from overseas customers.

But, the report added, trademark monitoring was not yet ingrained into the business culture at many companies, although internet businesses such as Alibaba and Tencent were pioneers in this respect.

Data sourced from PR Newswire, Thomson Reuters; additional content by Warc staff