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Chinese Firms Register High Street Names

Tuesday May 1, 2012 at 2:27pm

UK luxury brands are receiving boosts in sales from new international consumers, many of which are from China. A new generation of middle and wealthy classes are emerging in China, bringing with them an affinity for items and brands that mark prestige, such as Burberry, Mulberry, and Jaguar.

However, many of these brands will find that the Chinese love of high-end Western goods and marques is taking a new turn that will complicate their international expansion in the coming years.

Shocked business leaders

UK industry tycoons may be surprised to find out that Chinese individuals and firms are registering their specific trademarked names by the dozens. Names such as Sainsbury’s and John Lewis, both retail giants of the UK high street, are already registered in China by firms that have nothing to do with the companies as UK consumers understand them.

For example, the Hangzhou Buluna Garment & Accessories company owns the “Sainsbury’s” trademark name in China, and their quickness to register these trademarks will serve them for at least 10 years. The garment company was contacted by the Telegraph for comment, but none was available. Sainsbury’s has also chosen not to comment on the company’s registration of their name, but has reported that they began registering their trademarks in China years ago in support of eventual plans to grow in the Asian market.

Sainsbury’s is not alone, however: John Lewis and Waitrose are both registered trademark names belonging to the Li Can International Investment company. The right to use the name Dixons, also known by Chinese name Di Ke Xun, has been purchased by Shenzhen Basicon Electronics company, a giant in the Chinese mobile phones industry.

Individuals

It’s not just firms that are snapping up the opportunity to build their own brand on top of the recognition and prestige that UK companies provide. A single man, Liu Mingxi, now has the right to make and sell shoes, belts and other garments under the Asda name. Mr. Liu, of southern city Shenzen, will keep this right until 2018.

Even TopShop, perhaps Britain’s most widely known fashion export and first stop for young tourists and travellers visiting London, has been taken. A man named Zhuo Hongxiang owns the TopShop registered trademark in China until 2019.

The process of forward-thinking Chinese business men registering Western trademarks could make expanding business into China very difficult for Sainsbury’s and other large UK retailers. And of course, the booming state of China’s economy when compared to traditional UK trading partners in Europe will make it more and more enticing for UK brands to enter the Chinese market.
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