BEIJING (Kyodo) The names of Japanese celebrities, including pop singer Ayumi Hamasaki, have been registered as trademarks in China by businesspeople trying to capitalize on their fame.
There has been a similar controversy over unsuccessful attempts to register the names of noted locations in Japan, including Aomori and Kagoshima, as well as Japanese specialties, as Chinese trademarks.
China’s trademark act prohibits registration of well-known place names in other countries but has no clear rule on the use of foreign celebrity names.
Most Japanese celebrities whose names have been sought as private brands in China are also popular there, according to the Trademark Office of the Chinese State Administration for Industry and Commerce.
Hamasaki’s name was registered by a company in Guangdong Province as a stationery brand, and by a person in Hunan Province as a fitness club name, the office’s Web site shows.
The site has received several anonymous complaints against the use of Hamasaki’s name.
An individual in Hubei Province also obtained the right to use the name of pop singer Namie Amuro as a brand for apparel, and several people registered the name of table tennis player Ai Fukuhara, who played the sport with Chinese President Hu Jintao when he visited Japan last year.
Applications for trademark registration were also made for veteran actor Ken Takakura and pop singer Mika Nakashima.
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