China's five famous liquor brands jointly complained against Kweichou Moutai Co's application for "national liquor" trademark Wednesday, a move some analysts said is understandable as a possible approval would deprive these brands the right to promote themselves as national liquor.
"The point is not about sales and reputation boost for Moutai but the disadvantage it brings to others," Zhao Yong, a beverage analyst with Haitong Securities, told the Global Times Thursday.
The approval of application by Moutai may hurt other high-end liquor brands like Wuliangye, the strongest competitor of Moutai, Zhao noted.
Five liquor brands from Sichuan Province - Wuliangye, Jiannanchun, Swellfun, Langjiu and Tuopai - submitted a petition to the Trademark Office of the State Administration for Industry & Commerce Wednesday, their first public protest since Moutai passed the first review by the office on July 20, the 21st Century Business Herald reported Thursday.
The petitioners said if Moutai wins the trademark, it would bring unfair competition and distribution of resources as the "national liquor" trademark suggests the connotation of "the best-quality liquor" and "national-level liquor."
"It would also hurt the government's credibility," the petition said.
Guizhou-based Moutai has failed eight times since 2001 in its bid to earn the "national liquor" trademark. And if this year's application gets no objections by October 20 or those objections prove to be invalid, Moutai will win the trademark.
Moutai's application has encountered strong protest and criticism since July from both within the sector and outside. On August 6, Shanxi-based Fenjiu Group complained to the trademark office, saying that Moutai's products are not good enough to "represent or symbolize the whole nation."
Beijing-based Century Law Firm, which said it represents no liquor firms, also submitted its opposition in July. "We found this application running against the trademark regulation," a lawyer surnamed Cao with the firm told the Global Times Thursday, as applications for trademarks consisting of "national + commodity name" should be rejected.
Shu Guohua, a senior liquor marketing expert, said he did not see a high chance for Moutai in getting the trademark this time. "Moutai does not hold the largest market share and can not represent the sector yet," Shu said.
Others, however, showed support to the Moutai application. "Moutai represents not only itself, but also the whole sector. Liquor firms should support each other," Liang Jinhui, general manager of Anhui Gujing Distillery Co, said in June, according to earlier reports.
Zhao said most Chinese liquor consumers already view Moutai as the "national liquor" so the trademark would not make a big difference to its sales.