China View brings news of enterprising Chinese companies that are cashing in on the popularity of local film titles by registering them as trade marks for their own products. Thus local cinema hit "Kung Fu Hustle" has been purloined as a brand name for paint and (ironically) "A World Without Thieves" has been stolen for use by a Beijing technology company. Local legal expert Li Mingzu says that, while the films are copyright-protected, current laws don't protect their names from being used.
"According to verdicts of past cases, the use of a film name as a brand doesn't violate intellectual property laws. And film titles won't be protected by intellectual property right laws."However, Li Guoming, secretary-general of the China Filmmaker Association, says film-makers can protect their own rights better if they make good use of the added value of their works. He suggests Chinese film-makers seek to have their films published overseas or use film names for toy, costume and even software brands.
The IPKat sympathises with the film-makers and wonders whether Chinese trade mark law possesses a concept of bad faith that might invalidate such unwanted reputations. Merpel wonders about the market potential for "Kung Fu Hustle" -- the fact that a brand name like that might sell paint in China is probably quite indicative of the different way in which consumers in that country respond to brand names (imagine buying "The Terminator" paint in England).
More on paint names here, here and here