Apple Search Ads has been available in Mainland China since July 2021 but it has recently come to our attention that, while not initially listed among the documents to be submitted before a campaign is approved, a Software Copyright Certificate (SCC) is now required in order to run Apple Search Ads in China.
What is a Software Copyright Certificate?
A Software Copyright Certificate is a legal document that proves that a developer is the legal owner and copyright holder of an app or other software in China. Since China is not covered by the global intellectual property and trademark registration system, each software needs to be registered separately with the Chinese Copyright Administration Bureau, regardless of whether it has previously been admitted to WIPO’s international patent system.
An SCC has proven to be essential in cases of piracy complaints (app reclaiming). However, in recent years, top Chinese app stores such as Xiaomi, Oppo, Vivo, Huawei, Tencent, and Baidu have begun to require it before the distribution of an app in order to avoid potential copyright-related disputes.
How can I get an SCC?
An SCC is issued on a per-software or per-app basis. Any corporate entity in China or overseas can apply for one, although more steps and a longer processing time are expected if you were to apply with an overseas entity.
Registration materials include basic company information, an operation manual, and a source code sample. If you haven’t decided whether to apply with your overseas entity or work with a local partner, click on the guide below for more information on the procedure, benefits and limitations of each option.
A few other considerations
While the majority of the questions are addressed in Apple’s Advertising Guidelines for Mainland China, a few others are not made explicit to companies new to the Chinese market. We’ve compiled a list of other critical considerations for app developers considering promotion in Mainland China:
All content in your ad should be displayed in Simplified Chinese. App content should also support Simplified Chinese.
Apple’s guidelines state that “ad content that is not predominantly displayed in Simplified Chinese” will be prohibited from being advertised in Mainland China. In practice, it appears that apps that do not have a simplified Chinese version at all may be rejected or receive feedback for translation optimization. As a result, we recommend that you make Simplified Chinese one of the supported languages (or create a version specifically for Chinese users) and review the content of your creative sets before submitting them to Apple for approval.
Which entity to use when creating an account and applying for an SCC
It’s important to carefully consider which entity to use to obtain an SCC due to the long-term effects this decision can have on your operations in China.
|Partner with a Chinese company like AppInChina||Use your overseas entity||Use a WFOE (Wholly Foreign-Owned Entity) in China||Use a JV (joint-venture) in China|
|Open a developer account with Apple||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Open a developer account with Android app stores in China||Yes||No (with some exceptions)||Yes||Yes|
|Acquire the licenses & qualifications needed to publish on the Apple App Store China||Yes||No||Restricted (for example, the B25 Commercial ICP License can only be held by a majority Chinese-owned company)||Restricted (some licenses can only be held by a 100% Chinese-owned company)|
|Obtain an SCC||Yes||Yes, but more difficult than with a Chinese entity||Yes||Yes|
As you can see, while an SCC can be obtained regardless of which entity you apply with, the same entity may not be qualified to apply for industry-specific licenses that are required for your app’s publication or promotion such as the B25 Commercial ICP License.
Furthermore, if you have any plans to publish an Android version of your app in Mainland China, keep in mind that with almost all Chinese Android app stores, the entity you use to open a developer account must be the same entity you use to apply for an SCC. This eliminates the option of applying for an SCC through a foreign entity with no legal presence in China, as almost all Android app stores in China do not accept non-Chinese companies when creating developer accounts.
Working with AppInChina is likely to be the best solution for your app since our company already holds all of the key licenses that are needed to publish and promote apps in China. Contact us now to find out more.