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'Zhang Yimou' registered as a trademark
Updated: 2004-03-27 16:34

Zhang Yimou, the Chinese movie director who has become a household name, may find it strange when people start to ask for a "Zhang Yimo" while buying shampoos or acne cream as a homophone of his name was registered as a trademark.

An art supervisor of a Beijing corporate image planning company surnamed Yang said he registered "Zhang Yimo", which sounds very much like the director's name, as a trademark for daily cosmetics and expected to sell it at eight million yuan (960,000 US dollars)to interested businesses.

"There are throngs of big names, but not every one has the value to be registered. It depends on whether the person has enough cultural value and market appeal."

Zhang is definitely the perfect choice by Yang's criteria. As early as in 1988, he won the Golden Bear of the Berlinale for the movie "Red Sorghum" and in 2002, he directed the Oscar-nominated Chinese martial arts movie "Hero", which took the year's biggest box office receipts of 250 million yuan (about 30 million US dollars), far more than other domestic movies.

"What Zhang says and does catches people's attention," Yang said. "That's why I want to make the trademark famous with the aidof Zhang's influence."

Xie Tingfeng, a Hong Kong pop singer, also had a homophone of his name registered by a medical company for its anti-diarrhea medicine several years ago. Even the Chinese name for US PresidentBush's name could become the name of napkins if the trademark application is approved.

According to China's Trademark Law, these registration practices do not violate the eight articles prohibiting the registration of certain trademarks, which forbids the registrationof names the same or similar to the nation's name, of ethnic discrimination or harmful for social morals.

Ai Cheng, general manager of a Beijing marketing planning company, thought such registrations should be okay, "as long as they do not violate laws and regulations".

"It shows that China's businessmen now have higher trademark consciousness."

But others have voiced their objection to the trademark registration.

Wang Chunli, an associate business management professor of Beijing-based Capital University of Economics and Business, said that odd and unhealthy trademarks are actually harmful for a corporate culture.

"It's a systematic project for an enterprise to be recognized in the market," he said. "More should be done to improve product quality and innovation, instead of a mere packaging of the companyor its product."

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