Deputy urges protection of traditional brands

Chen Huizhi
A Shanghai official says that China's brands are often bogged down in lawsuits because of copycats and it is time that national legislation be introduced to protect their rights.
Chen Huizhi

Traditional brands in China are vulnerable to infringements due to the defect in legal protection, said Gao Yun, a deputy to the National People’s Congress from Shanghai.

Gao is Party secretary of Huangpu District, a district with 114 traditional brands, half of Shanghai’s total. Fifty of those brands were over 100 years old.

Some brands have found themselves in the court in trademark infringement cases, but not all of them ended up satisfied when cases were settled, Gao said.

“They usually had to spend a lot of money and energy on those lawsuits, and the compensation often didn’t live up to their expectations, which is quite detrimental to their brand value,” he said.

Gao cited an investigation which showed that 70 percent of the 1,600 traditional brands in China are struggling, while business was positive for just 10 percent.

One brand that had problems was Zhou Huchen, a traditional Chinese writing brush brand whose trademark right is in the hands of Shanghai Xinshijie Group Co. The company spent two years on a complaint and then a lawsuit against a person who registered the trademark “Zhou Huchen” for his black ink, ink stone and rice paper products which are used along with brushes in Chinese calligraphy.

Under current legal stipulations, based on the principle of “first come first serve,” unrelated people or companies can register brands with the names of traditional brands where the latter are not registered. Also, traditional brands as company names are not categorized under intellectual property rights in China, and companies from different provinces can have the same name, which further complicates the situation, Gao said.

Gao suggested the Congress consider a law on the protection and promotion of China’s traditional brands, learning from countries such as Germany and France.

The law should prevent traditional brands or company names from being registered by others, even if they are not yet formally registered, and ensure the brands’ right to their names around the country so as to prevent copycats, he said.

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