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Lawmakers decry rampant Chinese abuse of Taiwanese trademarks

2010/03/25 21:25:41

Taipei, March 25 (CNA) A group of legislators expressed graveconcern Thursday about rampant infringements or abuse of Taiwanesetrademarks by Chinese companies whose products have not onlycirculated in China but have also been exported around the world.

Lawmakers of different political stripes unanimously urged theadministration to address the issue of what they called Chinesecompanies' barefaced infringements upon Taiwan's trademark rights andChina's controversial regulations on commodities' country of origin.

They made the appeal at a Legislative Yuan Economics Committeehearing attended by Minister of Economic Affairs Shih Yen-shiang andWang Mei-hua, director of the Intellectual Property Office under theMinistry of Economic Affairs.

Speaking at the session, Legislator Pan Meng-an of the oppositionDemocratic Progressive Party noted that many China-produced productsare sold under Taiwanese brands.

For instance, tea produced in China's Fujian Province iscirculated in China as tea from Shanlinhsi in central Taiwan's NantouCounty, one of the country's most famous quality tea productionareas, while coffee grown in Tianjin is sold as coffee from Gukeng, arenowned coffee production area in southern Taiwan. Bell fruit grownin Beijing's Haiding area is sold in China as "Black Pearl" fromsouthern Taiwan's Pingtung County.

Worse still, Pan went on, rice noodles produced in China arebeing sold in Japan and described as coming from the northern Taiwancounty of Hsinchu, home to high quality rice noodles, while sweetrice cake made in China has been exported to Germany and described asbeing from Taiwan.

"The trademark infringements and false labeling of products'country of origin not only undermine the value of Taiwanese productsbut have also affected our companies' efforts to export theirproducts abroad," Pan said.

Ruling Kuomintang Legislator Ting Shou-chung said he recentlyreceived a petition from Formosatimes Co. after the company'sapplication for trademark registration was rejected by the Chineseauthorities on the grounds that "Formosa" connotes derogation becauseit was coined by Taiwan's Dutch rulers centuries ago.

Discounting China's rejection of Formosatimes' trademarkapplication as "incredible, " Ting urged Shih to take action to pushChina to change its stance.

In response, Shih said intellectual property rights (IPR) issueswill make the agenda of the fifth round of high-level talks acrossthe Taiwan Strait to be held in the first half of this year.

The institutionalized bi-annual cross-strait talks will beconducted by the heads of the two quasi-official intermediary bodies-- Chiang Pin-kun, chairman of Taiwan's Straits Exchange Foundation,and his Chinese counterpart Chen Yunlin, president of the Associationfor Relations Across the Taiwan Straits.

Also speaking at the committee hearing, the IPR bureau chief saidhis office has already been negotiating trademark issues withrelevant Chinese authorities and has obtained some positive results.

For instance, Wang said, the Chinese authorities have revoked the"Alishan Tea" trademark right for a Chinese company after Taiwanlodged a protest -- Alishan is a popular Taiwanese tourist spot knownfor its high mountain quality tea and natural scenery.

(By Lin Shu-yuan and Sofia Wu)