Warning: Don't violate China's Olympic athletes' trademark rights
The Chinese Olympic Committee has issued a warning to companies seeking to cash in on athletes' Olympic success by registering their names as trademarks.
Malicious registration of trademarks using athletes' names will not be permitted without the agreement of the athletes themselves or their custodians, the COC said Wednesday following recent trademark registration activity.
The names of several of China's gold medalists, including shooter Yang Qian, table tennis player Chen Meng and diver Quan Hongchan, have recently been the subject of trademark applications.
At least 18 trademark registrations for Quan have been filed in categories of daily supplies, medicine, office supplies, footwear, food, beer and beverage, wine, education and others, Beijing Youth Daily reported.
By August 15, the names of 20 Chinese Olympic gold medalists had been applied for registration as trademarks, according to searches of China's trademark information.
The registration dates were prior to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
The COC has called on the community to be rational and to respect athletes' legal interests when pursuing related commercial activities.
They should withdraw and terminate the application immediately if they are found to be violating the rights to an athlete's name, the COC said, adding that whoever violates the law will be investigated.
The names of well-known people are closely related to their commercial value. If people apply for registration without obtaining authorization, it constitutes an infringement, said lawyer Chang Sha from King & Capital Law Firm, according to the report.
If the trademark owner coerces the person to "cooperate," or asks for high trademark transfer fees or licensing fees, it is considered malicious registration, Chang added.
Only 5 percent of respondents in a survey conducted on Weibo by 21st Century Business Herald said they are willing to pay for the names.
A majority of those surveyed said they would be more focused on the products themselves than simply chasing the names attached to them.