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Two Chinas, one value

Written By : Ron Coleman
March 28, 2010

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This item from Focus Taiwan didn’t end quite the way I expected it to:

A group of legislators expressed grave concern Thursday about rampant infringements or abuse of Taiwanese trademarks by Chinese companies whose products have not only circulated in China but have also been exported around the world.

Not just any legislators:  Taiwanese legislators.  More:

Lawmakers of different political stripes unanimously urged the administration to address the issue of what they called Chinese companies’ barefaced infringements upon Taiwan’s trademark rights and China’s controversial regulations on commodities’ country of origin.

Well, not entirely “different political stripes”–none of them, I assume, is a member of the Chinese Communist Party.  These guys are in Taiwan!  You know–”Formosa”?  “Nationalist China”?

Now, I have written about China and IP rights, an immensely well-covered topic by other people, elsewhere a couple of times.  Once I expressed my skepticism at their claim in the Wall Street Journal that “they really mean it this time” about anti-counterfeiting enforcement, which I called “just more chin music.”  More along the lines of this story, I laughed at the idea of the People’s Daily Online solemnly reporting a story about a Chinese trademark infringement claim–being all communist and that.  This seemed even more of a weird story, considering that China does not recognize “Taiwan,” i.e., the Republic of China, as an independent state.  Which is, to say the least, merely saying the least.

In any case, you’d hardly expect these legislators to get too exercised about being “disrespected” that doesn’t even have legislators, and would, you’d think, have the lot of them shot if it weren’t so messy just right this now.  But you’d be wrong:

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

The institutionalized bi-annual cross-strait talks will be conducted 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 Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits.

Also speaking at the committee hearing, the IPR bureau chief said his office has already been negotiating trademark issues with relevant 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 Taiwan lodged a protest — Alishan is a popular Taiwanese tourist spot known for its high mountain quality tea and natural scenery.

Live and learn.  They’re bitter enemies and consider each other usurpers of entire nations, but on trademarks they can talk and cooperate!  It’s like some fantasy opening address at that one-worlder bunch over at the International Trademark Association or something.

Even a hardened litigator such as myself is touched.  But  in a couple of hours I’ll be unemotional again.

Cross-posted on LIKELIHOOD OF CONFUSION®, Ron Coleman’s trademark and copyright law blog.

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