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Wolf Warrior movie trademarks face challenges, risks

By Zhuan Ti | China Daily | Updated: 2017-08-17 08:50

As the Chinese military-themed action movie Wolf Warrior II has gained huge market acclaim, the potential value of the movie's name is drawing increasing attention. Industry experts said there is an ongoing intellectual property battle behind the scenes of the battle for the box office.

Since 2014 - a year before the first episode of the Wolf Warrior series was released - the movies' actor-director Wu Jing has filed about 60 related trademark applications using the movies' names and logos, his own name and signature, and some signs that appear in the movies.

"Previously there were cases where the names of movies were registered as trademarks before the movies were shown," Li Guoqing, a lawyer at Henan-based Yulong Law Firm, told China Intellectual Property News.

"Trademarks are the carriers of reputation," Li said. "Wu has filed for trademark protection for the characters and logos of Wolf Warrior in advance to avoid other people's registration. This is important for future development of the movie series' IP value."

However, some of Wu's applications have been rejected and most of the others remain under review, so the development of Wolf Warrior derivatives is currently facing risks.

The lawyer said one of Wu's biggest mistakes is that he chose the wrong categories when filing applications.

She explained that as a movie producer, the company should first register trademarks in the category of video production service, but Wu's company did not do so.

The "Wolf Warrior" trademark in that category was registered by a Shenzhen-based company, which has nothing to do with the movies. It passed the initial review on July 20, a month later than the time when Wu's company applied for the trademark, which means Wu had the chance to register the trademark but failed to make good use of it.

The rejected trademarks include one using "Special Force Wolf Warrior", which was filed in July 2014. It was rejected because the special force, as an internationally recognized generic term for a branch of the armed forces, cannot be used as part of a trademark, according to the law.

Another application using the Chinese words for Wolf Warrior has also been rejected because the characters were written incorrectly.

"You can design the characters in an artistic way, but you can never lose a stroke or add unnecessary ones," Xu Xuefen, a trademark lawyer at Beijing-based consultation firm IPVFF, wrote on her blog.

A badge for the Chinese special force in the movie has been successfully trademarked, and Wu's signature has passed the initial review.

"Trademark registration must come before business action," said Li. "On the one hand, we should increase awareness and register trademarks as early as possible; on the other hand, we should file applications in the right way."

Box office takings for Wolf Warrior II hit 100 million yuan ($15 million) in just four hours after its premiere late last month, and reached 1 billion yuan in five days. The number has surpassed 4.7 billion yuan and is still rising.

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