Thu, Feb 20, 2003 - Page 1 News List

Trademark dispute over Taiwan Beer triggers calls for Chinese-beer boycott


DPP Legislator Tsai Chi-fang holds a press conference at the Legislative Yuan yesterday to publicize Beijing's repeated refusal to allow Taiwan Beer imports. A new brand name, ``TTL Beer,'' has had to be created.


DPP Legislator Tsai Chi-fang (蔡啟芳) yesterday called for a consumer boycott of China's Tsingtao and Yanching beers until Beijing opens the Chinese market to Taiwanese beer.

Tsai told a press conference that attempts to register the Taiwan Beer and Kinmen Kaoliang brands in China have reportedly been blocked by Beijing on the grounds that geographical names may not be part of trademark registrations.

"It is outrageous that unfair trade practices still exists in the alcohol trade across the Taiwan Strait now that both sides have been admitted to the WTO and Taiwan businessmen have made huge investments on the mainland," Tsai said.

He said the entry of Tsing Tao and Yanjing beer to the local market resulted in an 8-percent decrease in beer sales for the state-owned Taiwan Tobacco and Liquor Co's (TTL) last year.

Tsai said both the US and the EU have approved TTL's applications to market its beer under the "Taiwan Beer" label in those markets.

"It's unreasonable that China still does not allow us to sell Taiwan beer in its market," Tsai said.

A TTL executive told reporters that the company first tried to register its "Taiwan Beer" trademark with Chinese authorities in 1998 and then again in 2000, but both applications were rejected.

He said the company was later given approval to market the beer under the name "TTL Beer. "

The official said the company filed another application for a "Taiwan Beer" trademark last year following China and Taiwan's accession to the WTO.The Kinmen Liquor Co has reportedly encountered similar problems in trying to sell its Kinmen Kaoliang on the Chinese market because it cannot get its trademark registered.

Media reports say that TTL and Kinmen Liquor will ask the government to start negotiations with China over the trademark restrictions under the WTO framework.

Kinmen Liquor is reportedly resisting the opening of Taiwan's market to Chinese liquor products until the problem is resolved.

Media reports also note that TTL's Long Life cigarette brand was registered in China by Xunyang Tobacco and Liquor Group a few years ago, which would mean the company cannot market its cigarettes under that name in China.

Xunyang is reportedly asking for NT$30 million to release the rights to the "Long Life" name.

However, TTL markets China's Zhonghua brand cigarettes locally.

Taiwan Tobacco is reportedly negotiating with the Chinese representatives of Zhonghua cigarettes and Xunyang Tobacco to try to arrange an exchange of trademark registrations.

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