Commercialization Right must be Clarified

Commercialization Right must be Clarified


Well-Known Characters Squatted: Commercialization Right must be Clarified

Zheng Yuanjie is a Chinese fairy tale author known as the “King of Fairy Tales”. In recent years, he has found many of his characters are registered as trademarks or trade names without his authorization by some companies.

Two of his most well-known characters are Shuke and Beita from his book Adventure of Shuke and Beita. However, Zheng Yuanjie found a company named Nanjing Shukebeita Pet Products Co., Ltd. that opened a Taobao online store and made profits from selling rat-related products. The company was registered by a Jiangsu-based company who registered the “Shukebeita” trademark in 2019.

Well-Known Characters Squatted: Commercialization Right must be Clarified

After one-year preparation, Zheng filed an application for invalidation of the “Shukebeita” trademark to the Trademark Office of National Intellectual Property Administration (TONIPA). “There are so many companies violating my legal right,” Zheng explained, “I have to take some time to sue them one by one.”

Currently, the application is under investigation.

According to the TONIPA, Shuke and Beita had already been familiar to the public before the trademark was registered, and thus must be protected as prior rights. The applicant who unfairly makes profit in the name of “Shuke and Beita” is against the law.

Wan Yong, a professor from the School of Law of Renmin University of China, said that the problem Zheng encountered was actually the issue of “commercialization right” that had been discussed by the IP academic circle for years. Commercialization right refers to the right to put famous images or names of famous works into commercial use.

The laws in China only protect copyright, trademark, right of name and portrait. As China’s economy thriving, especially with the rapid development of the entertainment industr y (literature, film and television), many literary characters and names are unfairly used without authorization.

For the original name of works, the name of characters, etc., if they are of high reputation, they should be protected according to law The relevant authorities should be given the right to establish a review mechanism to prohibit behaviors such as free-riding and plagiarism.


June 22, 2019

Source: Legal Daily

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