Chinese companies rush to register ‘Mbappe’ trademark

Source:Global Times Published: 2018/7/16 22:13:09

Dozens of Chinese companies and individuals have applied to trademark the name of French soccer star Kylian Mbappe, aiming to capitalize on the young athlete's fame after he led his team to victory in the 2018 World Cup held in Russia, but experts warned of potential legal troubles arising from indiscriminate trademark filings.

At present, 189 trademark applications have been filed to the Trademark Office of the State Administration for Industry and Commerce of China, 159 of them using the Chinese transliteration of Mbappe's surname, as well as 30 applications for Mbappe written in roman letters.

But that number pales in comparison with the whopping 169 new applications that have been filed since July 1, right after Mbappe scored two goals, leading France to beat the popular Argentinian team in a match widely watched in China.

On July 2 alone, the first Monday after the match, 72 applications for the Mbappe trademark were filed, leading many to joke about the reaction speed of China's business community.

Most of the recent trademark applications are waiting to be dealt with thus their specific information cannot be shown on the authority's website.

But the case also had experts foreseeing legal trouble with registering names of celebrities as trademarks, as well as the harm done by "trademark trolls," who rush to register trademarks so they can profit from selling them, instead of using the trademarks in their own products.

"China's trademark approval process isn't very strict, as the volume of filings is just too large. In this case, if the reviewers aren't very knowledgeable about soccer, it is likely most Mbappe trademarks will be approved," Zhao Zhanling, a legal counsel of the Beijing-based Internet Society of China, told the Global Times on Monday.

However, even if a trademark gets approved, a celebrity could mount a legal challenge and have it voided, as Michael Jordan did years ago, Zhao added.

The legal process can be onerous. "The law states that trademarks are canceled if they haven't been used in a real product for three years. Depending on the case, sometimes it's easier to just buy a trademark outright if the price isn't too high," said Zhao.


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