The Secretary of State to the Minister in China (Johnson)

No. 1231

Sir: Reference is made to the Legation’s despatch No. 2050 of April 13, 1933,73 and previous correspondence, in regard to the protection of American trademarks in China under the Chinese trademark law of 1930 and especially in regard to the question of whether that law and the detailed regulations for the enforcement thereof are applicable to American citizens conformably with their rights in China by virtue of treaty or otherwise.

After careful study of the information made available to the Department by the Legation and the Consulate General at Shanghai, the Department believes that, because of numerous objectionable features of the law and the incompetent and arbitrary manner in which it is at times administered, it is impossible specifically to accept the law as applicable to American nationals. However, as the nationals of many countries, including nationals of the United States, have been registering their marks under this law for almost three years, it would seem inadvisable to declare the law and the regulations inapplicable to American nationals or to attempt to obtain a material revision thereof or improvement in their administration by general objections which are not based on specific cases.

Moreover, as it appears that the Legation and consular officers have through representations to the appropriate Chinese authorities obtained correction of some abusive applications of the law to American nationals, it would seem that a continuation of the policy which has brought about these results would be more likely to benefit American interests than a general attempt to obtain the necessary revision of the provisions of the law and the reformation of the organization which has been placed in charge of its administration.

The Legation will, therefore, refrain from making any communication to the Chinese authorities as to the application to American nationals of the trademark law of 1930 and the regulations for its enforcement, but the Legation and the consulates will continue to make appropriate representations in behalf of American trademark interests in any case in which such representations appear to be warranted.

Very truly yours,

For the Secretary of State:
William Phillips
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