We’ve seen trademark issues in China involving Michael Jordan, hairy crabs, and now, people’s ancestors. A tea shop in Anxi, Fujian province, reportedly registered a trademark using the name of renowned Qing Dynasty writer, Li Guangdi, causing his descendants to ‘boil over’ with anger:
For eight consecutive days six men, most of them aged, stayed at Wang Qing’s tea shop in Anxi county of Fujian province to protest the shopkeeper’s registration of a trademark using the name of their ancestor Li Guangdi.
Wang acquired the rights for the Li Guangdi trademark in 2006 for use on tea. Designed with Li’s profile and his name in both Chinese and English, the same trademark was later registered by Wang for many other kinds of goods including food, clothes and publishing services.
Wang claims that he acquired the trademark rights using the legal process and the name Li Guangdi is part of Chinese culture, so the trademark also promotes and protects local tea culture.
“Li Guangdi and Tieguanyin tea are two of the best-known names from Anxi county,” said Wang. “Combine them and we have a new brand.”
But Li’s descendants say their forebear had little connection with Tieguanyin tea. According to county annals, local Anxi residents started to make Tieguanyin tea in 1725, seven years after Li died.
“Using Li’s name and portrait without the authorization of his descendants is a great insult,” said Li Jinde, a member of the administration of Li’s former residences. “If you really want to promote our ancestor, you should highlight his contributions to the nation instead of printing his image on tea packages that will be thrown away after the tea is used.”
We might’ve seen even greater outrage were his name trademarked by the panda poop tea guy.
Benjamin Cost is Shanghaiist’s Food Editor. Email tips, recommendations, and news updates on Shanghai’s dining scene to [email protected].