The producers of the British period drama television series “Downton Abbey” have done quite well for themselves. The show is a hit. And in Britain and the U.S., they’ve rolled out a wide range of branded merchandise; clothes, jewellery, cosmetics and even wine. But they’re missing one of the biggest markets: China.
Several Chinese entrepreneurs got in quick and secured the right to use the “Downton” name in China. They have no connection to the show, but were simply the first to file.
Although it could be seen as a trademark registered in bad faith, it may cause the British producers a lot of damages in merchandising deals. It can take quite some time to get the trademark back.
The situation follows the recent trade mission to Beijing of U.K. Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, who bragged that “160 million people in China are watching the goings on at Downton Abbey.” He cited this as evidence of the growing – and mutually beneficial – trade links between the two countries. Quite ironic.
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