Tea Trademarks and Chinese Variants: King of Teas/Ali One Tea Dispute 茶裏王/阿里王商標大戰

13730546_10102616344538349_1668283995_oI thought that the recent trademark dispute between Taiwanese tea brands 「茶裏王」 (King of Tea) and 「阿里王 Ali One」 that resolved in favour of the former was interesting because two characters 「里」 and 「裏」 have been seen by the Taiwan Intellectual Property Court as the same character.

「茶裏王」 was launched in the early 2000s by Tainan-based international food conglomerate Uni-President Enterprises Corporation, while 「阿里王 Ali One」 was launched in 2014 by a woman called Huang Yi-zhen (黃逸蓁).

The name 「茶裏王」 translates to “King of Teas” because the 「裏」, a common variant of the character 「裡」, means “among” or “in”  – so it’s literal meaning is “among teas a king”. 「阿里王」 however, just uses 「里」 as a phonetic particle as part of 「阿里」which alludes to 「阿里山」 (Alishan National Scenic Area) – which itself is a transliteration of the Tsou (鄒) aboriginal name for the area “Jarissang”. In fact, although 「里」 means “in” in simplified Chinese, in which it is used in place of 「裡」 and 「裏」, in traditional Chinese, it is only used as a unit of measurement (approx 500m) and for an administrative unit under township (neighborhood/village). Each district in Taipei has an individual li, as shown in the street sign below:

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While the 「王」 in 「茶裏王」 means “King”, the 「王」 in 「阿里王 Ali One」 appears primarily to be a transliteration of the English word “one”, hence the product’s English name. A similar example is the 「旺」 in 「旺旺集團」, which is anglicized using the English word “want”, to give you the Want Want Holdings Group – the company at the center of the media monopoly protests in Taiwan and my former employer. However, there’s also a sense that the 「阿里王 Ali One」 trademark is also playing off the use of the word 「王」 as both a transliteration and for its literal meaning as “king”, i.e. King of Ali (referencing Alishan, an important tea-growing area in Taiwan). So the case for the third character is not as strong as that for the second, in my unqualified view.

Thus, the Intellectual Property Court finding as quoted by this report on the trademark case would seem to be incorrect:

智財法院認為,「茶裏王」、「阿里王Ali ONE」商標都是用於茶葉商品,第二個字皆有「里」字,第三個字皆為「王」字,對消費者而言近似程度高,加上「茶裏王」商標使用久、知名度高,因此應給「茶裏王」較大的保護,今判統一勝訴,智財局須撤銷「阿里王Ali ONE」商標註冊,全案仍可上訴。

The Intellectual Property Court found that the trademarks “茶裏王” (King of Tea) and “阿里王 Ali One” are both used to market tea products, and that the second character in each is “里” while the  third characters in each are both “王” (King), so they are very similar for consumers. In addition because the “茶裏王” trademark has been in use for a long time and is very well-known. because of this, “茶裏王” should have greater protection, so Uni-President Enterprises Corporation won the case today, and the Taiwan Intellectual Property Bureau rescinds the trademark granted for “阿里王Ali One”, although the case is still subject to appeal.

The 「茶裏王」 bottles have recently been featuring thought-for-the-day style “profundities” (note the use of speech marks) such as the one below, which I thought was particularly apt to go with this post:

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Photocopy machines are used to remind you

That if you only copy

You’ll stay in the corner forever

Have you done something innovative today?

 

 

5 thoughts on “Tea Trademarks and Chinese Variants: King of Teas/Ali One Tea Dispute 茶裏王/阿里王商標大戰

  1. Pingback: Update: Tea Trademarks in Taiwan | Translating Taiwanese Literature

  2. This is a very interesting case. Although I am a chemist, I have been very keen in languages and traslation, trade mark, graphic etc. since as a teenager. If you look at my most recent postEd taiwanlanguageblog ( who is real owner of this blog ? ) I have questioned how Hanji , Chinese characters, influence fine arts, visual art etc. Since this is a legal case in Taiwan, let me shift to Mandarin. This case in favor of President Food must be appealed!

    你也許可以幫助/建議「阿里王」上訴,說不定可以賺取一奌外快。但是這不是本意,也要「阿里王」店家接受你的建議。「阿里」隱喻「阿里山」甚至是回教人名"Ali",是一個俗名,也是人及地方的固有名詞。所以沒有一個公司宣稱它/他/她擁有這個汎文化、地理的「固有名詞」!沒有一個商人可以擁有「台灣」「嘉義」等⋯國民黨政府強迫「台北中學」(泰北中學)「淡水中學」(淡江中學)是不對的,他們創始時就是這個名字。雖然是私立的MIT, Caltec, New York U, Chicago U 都是私立的。國民政府學美國沒有學好⋯
    統一也許沒有權利有「王」⋯除外,裡、裏、理…不能含蓋「里」字的本字!
    (Chinese Taipei 只代表中共及國民黨的歪理…)
    陳存 提供

      • Dear Ladenframe:I have spent enough time to study TAIWANESE lexicon, and will change my interest to art/music. I though I have hijacked “taiwanlanguageblog” from you, but you claim that you are a follower of the site. Can you please post the “blog” instead of the “site” as a follower, so The Blog may have more readers ?

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