IP and Law
Posted by Joel Martinsen on Saturday, October 21, 2006 at 3:02 AM
Yet another insulting trademark has the guardians of traditional culture up in arms. Qu Yuan, the famous ancient poet, is now a brand of pig-feed.
Hunan famous brand - Qu Yuan Brand Feed.
Qu Yuan's is already in use as a trademark on loads of stuff - alcohol, zongzi, tea - but this is different. According to professor Fan Ping of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Qu Yuan as a historical figure is well-known as a patriot, so to connect him to animal feed is unacceptable. Particularly galling is the fact that the company is based in Yueyang, Hunan, the location of the poet's suicide. Across the border in Qu Yuan's hometown of Digui, Hubei, the Qu Yuan Research Society sent a letter to the company requesting that it change its name to protect the reputation of this great historical personage.
Unfortunately for Qu Yuan and ancient culture, there are no legal barriers to the use of an ancient personality as a trademark. The company was granted the trademark in 1999 and has since been elevated to a provincial-level famous brand.
In a blog post that has been adapted into opinion pieces for several newspapers, civil servant Gao Fusheng lambasts the authorities for permitting such a travesty:
The company, Yueyang Quyuan Science & Technology Development Co., says it had no intention of smearing Qu Yuan's good name. The city of Yueyang has a development district named after the poet to commemorate his death, and the company merely took its name from its location. It currently has no plans to renounce its trademark.
Still, we'll have to side with those who want the trademark revoked - "Qu Yuan" would work much better as a brand of fish food.
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