Companies fight over 'slap-on-face' brand

Tian Shengjie
The well-known "Erguang Wonton" brand is at the center of a dispute over the right to use the name following a brother and sister's efforts made it famous.
Tian Shengjie

The “Erguang Wonton” brand is well known in Shanghai, especially for its cold wonton with sesame paste. However, two companies have been fighting for the right to use the brand.

Xuhui District People’s Court ruled that Shanghai Zaigao Restaurant Management Co’s actions constituted unfair competition. The company should stop using the brand and pay Erguang Restaurant Management Co 2 million yuan (US$287,200) compensation. Zaigao has appealed to the intermediary court.

Erguang said that in 1997, Pan Guoxian and sister Pan Yunnan opened a wonton stand on Zhaozhou Road. Due to word-of-mouth, it attracted many celebrities, such as Hu Ge, the hero of “Nirvana in Fire,” and Han Hong, a famous Tibetan singer.

Consumers praised the wonton, saying they wouldn’t stop eating them even if they were slapped in the face. “Erguang” means a slap on the face so the public called the wonton sold in Pan’s stands “Erguang Wonton.”

In 2016, the pair established the Erguang company and reopened the restaurant on Huangjiaque Road.

But they found that the brand “Erguang Wonton” had been registered by Zaigao.

The Fengxian-based company bought the trademark license from Hong Kong Meiya Co, which registered the brand in 2012. 

There are hundreds of “Erguang Wonton” restaurants in Shanghai, Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces opened by Zaigao.

Meiya said “Erguang Wonton” originates from a folktale about Shanghai mob boss Du Yuesheng (1888-1951) eating wonton. Many other brands related to “Erguang Wonton” were registered by the company in 2014.

Erguang claimed that because of the pair’s over 20 years of effort, the brand became popular and Meiya must have coveted their reputation and rushed to register the brand.

But Zaigao considered that after its advertising on video-streaming platforms, more media platforms started focusing on “Erguang Wonton” since 2016. It added that the stands were without legitimacy.

The court said that although the brother and sister hadn’t registered the brand, they had developed it to become influential and famous so their rights should be protected.

Zaigao said they had planned at the beginning of this year to change the name of “Erguang Wonton” to “Baodaxiang” due to the vulgar meaning of “Erguang.”

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