The trademark registration for Matsu’s “blue tears” (藍眼淚) — a natural nighttime phenomenon of fluorescent blue patches caused by the algae Noctiluca scintillans that are visible from the shore from April to August — might be canceled, the Intellectual Property Office said yesterday.
The decision might be affected by the case of Bravo the Bear, the Taipei Summer Universiade mascot that has become a Taipei City Government mascot, whose appearance was mildly modified to be more distinguishable to gain trademark registration approval.
The city government applied for a trademark for the second version of Bravo in December last year and is likely to obtain it, but its Chinese name,xiong zan (熊讚), is a colloquial term that is ineligible for trademark protection, office Director-General Hong Shu-min (洪淑敏) said.
Photo: screen grab from Professional Technology Temple
Xiong zan is pronounced similarly to the Hoklo (commonly known as Taiwanese) word for “the best.”
If the name xiong zan cannot be registered, then how can “blue tears” receive a trademark, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Gao Jyh-peng (高志鵬) said.
It is inappropriate for “blue tears” to have word mark protection, Hong said, adding that the office would cancel its registration.
Lienchiang County Government documents showed that “blue tears” was registered for word mark protection, the office said, adding that it has notified the trademark’s owners that the registration would be canceled if they do not propose a solution.
It said word mark protection for “blue tears” was obtained by three people of the county government for usage on four types of products: pastries, tea leaves, popsicles and glass products.
They succeeded in obtaining trademark protection because they applied when the county government was eagerly promoting the “blue tears” for tourism purposes and the name was not yet protected, an office official said.
DPP Legislator Chuang Ruei-hsiung (莊瑞雄) said he is a victim of Bravo, because he used the homonymic term xiong zan (雄讚) for his campaign slogan, but now people only think of the mascot when they hear it.
He asked whether the office had intentionally made it hard for the Taipei City Government to obtain trademark protection for the mascot.
The first version of Bravo is a graphic design that already obtained trademark protection, while the application for the second version is being processed and is likely to succeed, Hong said, adding that the office did not delay the process or make it hard for the city government.
The newly modified appearance of Bravo, which features a distinctive ocean blue nose and white eyebrows, as well as the integration of the Chinese characters for Taipei into part of its name in Chinese, were officially launched at the Taipei International Flora Exposition Expo Dome yesterday.
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