Recently, a news report in Taiwan pointed out that a trademark rejection notice issued by the China National Intellectual Property Administration was circulating on the Internet. The text briefly reads “The logo contains ‘Chunhua’. As “Hu Chunhua” is a member of the Political Bureau of the 19th Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, Vice-premier and Party member of the State Council, use of this logo as a trademark may easily cause adverse social impact, and thus it cannot be used as a trademark.” This news surprised the general public in Taiwan, because the word “Chunhua” is a commonly used word in both China and Taiwan. However, from the perspective of intellectual property rights, there are also relevant regulations in Taiwan, as follows:
According to the trademark identification examination criteria promulgated by the Intellectual Property Office, the use of surnames, names and portraits as trademarks involves the protection of the personality rights of natural persons in addition to the identification, and attention shall be paid during examination. As reported in recent news, “Hu Chunhua” belongs to a government official and is well known to the public. According to the examination criteria, “The name is identifiable in principle, and can be allowed for registration in principle, as long as the trademark has not been registered under another’s famous name, stage name, pen name, or shop name.” As seen, the Taiwan Intellectual Property Office also has related regulations for famous or historical figures not allowed to obtain trademark rights, such as “Tang Taizong”, “Zhuangzi”, “Sun Yat-sen”, etc. Famous or historical figures often involve distinctive images and play the role of social edification. If they are used as a trademark and the designated goods cause general consumers to have negative associations such as disrespect or slander, it may cause chaotic public order or harm good customs. Thus, the Intellectual Property Office particularly specifies the related matters in the examination criteria and formulates corresponding laws.
For the names of most famous people or celebrities, ordinary enterprises or people will not want to register a trademark in principle, unless the relevant industry is actually related to the famous people or celebrities, then it will have intention to file a trademark application.
Famous people or celebrities, as stated in the news, may indeed cause adverse social impact. However, you can consult the window of the Intellectual Property Office or consult a professional trademark agent, who has relevant practical experience besides professional knowledge, so that your trademark can be successfully applied for and registered.