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Trending trademark attracts many bids
Wang Chao from Zhengzhou, Henan province, has received many calls from strangers since early December, asking to buy a trademark he owns. The highest bid to buy the trademark so far has been 600,000 yuan ($92,200), offered by a caller from Shanghai.
In June 2014, Wang registered two trademarks using Miyue, the name of a main character in the novel The Legend of Miyue, which has been adapted as a TV drama that is popular in China.
As a lover of literature, Wang read the novel, written by Jiang Shengnan, in 2013 and felt it was wonderfully composed.
"The Chinese character mi is rarely seen and special. I think it is a good name," he said.
He told his local newspaper, Zhengzhou Evening News, he had wanted to open a shop selling cakes and nuts. "Miyue sounds like the name of a delicate cake or snack, so I decided to name my shop after it."
He failed to find an ideal location for the shop, but had already registered the trademark, which attracted attention after the TV drama began broadcasting on Nov 30.
"I never expected the TV adaptation would be so hot," Wang said.
The show has been well received not only in China but also abroad. Many international TV networks have purchased the right to show it, including Netflix in the United States.
Names of celebrities, events, movies, TV shows and the characters in them, even hurricanes, attract attention from trademark registrants. Miyue is one of the most recent to join the list.
According to the database of the national trademark office, Miyue has been registered as a trademark for many products, ranging from food and drinks to medicine, musical instruments and services.
Experts suggested trademark registrants "keep a rational mind" when they pick such buzzwords.
Shi Jinchuan, professor at the College of Economics of Zhejiang University, said such words become trademarks because of their commercial value.
"When such a trademark is successfully registered, it suddenly has potential value and gains fame quickly thanks to the popularity of the buzzword," he said.
However, a company will not become well-known overnight just depending on a trending trademark, he said. "Such a trademark does not necessarily mean huge market opportunities although it brings attention. At the end of the day, product quality counts."
Ye Shuirong, a lawyer with the Zhejiang Zeding Law Firm, warned there could be risks after registering a buzzword as a trademark.
"There have been many lawsuits involving trademark squatting in recent years," he said. "If a trademark violates the rights of a celebrity or an organization, the chances are that it will be revoked."