BEIJING, Feb. 6 (Xinhuanet) -- A Beijing businessman wants to trademark the
Chinese name of US President George W. Bush to market his disposable diapers.
The applicant, surnamed Guo, filed an application with the General Administration for Industry and Commerce of China, stating he wants to use the
two-character phrase "Bushi" as a trademark, the Beijing News reported.
"I hit upon the idea by chance," said Guo, who became a Beijing resident
three years ago.
"Back in my hometown in Henan Province, the pronunciation of 'Bushi' sounds
exactly like 'not wet'."
While Bush's critics might get a good laugh out of the product, government
officials don't seem to appreciate Guo's humor.
His application is very likely to be rejected "because it may bring about
bad social impact if a leader's name is registered as a trademark," according to
an official surnamed Liu at the State Trademark Bureau.
"The result of Guo's application will come out in 16 months as the
procedure for examination and approval is rather complicated," he added.
The latest Trademark Law issued in 2001 bans words or patterns that can
cause "harmful effects on ethics or society" to be used as trademarks.
Liu said the authority has just turned down an application by a costume
company, which applied to use the Chinese translation of "Lewinsky" as a fashion
brand. He didn't say if the company was planning to produce stain-resistant blue
A distillery in Shaoxing, Zhejiang Province, encountered a similar
rejection three years ago when it tried to register the name of Chinese literary
giant Lu Xun for its wine products.
Yang Liwei, the nation's first astronaut almost saw his name used by a pear
company in Liaoning Province, but that application proved unfruitful according
to a report in Shenyang Today.
While most of these proposed brand names have been rejected, it is not
uncommon in the country for a celebrity's name to be used as a trademark.
"China has ranked No. 1 worldwide for two years in terms of the number of
trademark applications and there are more applications for well-known names
these years," said a trademark bureau official, who asked not to be identified.
In 2001, a pharmaceutical factory in south China's Guizhou Province
succeeded in using Xie Tingfeng, the Mandarin name of Hong Kong pop star
Nicholas Tse, as the trademark of its anti-diarrhea drug.
Last December a Beijing company called Nan Bei Tong applied to use the name
of Mu Zimei, a controversial 25-year-old sex columnist, on its condom. Officials
have yet to rule on that request.
Government officials said such applications are the result of sharp market
"Merchants are mainly driven by business interests, hoping a popular trade
name will lead to a best-selling product," officials said.
Legal experts said people should be more cautious when registering a
notable person's name.
"You must ask for the permission of the person whose name you are applying
for, otherwise, you would violate the law," said Zhang Jiaxiang, a trademark
agent with the Patient & Carol Trademark Agency in Shanghai.
He said his company rejected several clients, who applied to use famous
names such as Mao Zedong and San Mao, a Chinese cartoon character.
"Such kinds of names are very likely to trigger off bad political influence
or copyright disputes," Zhang explained.