Friday, October 31, 2008

When in China

China remains controversial - tainted milk, eggs, toys, bogus military parts and deplorable working conditions...

I see a lot of discussions on Edison Nation forums urging inventor-entrepreneurs to make their stuff in the U.S.A. Until domestic manufacturing returns to these shores, it pays to know some of the ground rules in China. Here's an excerpt from our December issue of Inventors Digest:

Protecting intellectual property in China is a different ballgame, say the lawyers at Wolf, Greenfield & Sacks, P.C., a Boston law firm specializing in protecting intellectual property in the United States and worldwide.

Trademark Protection

Avoid “whoppers,” file early. U.S. companies registering their trademarks in China need a basic understanding of Chinese law, language and culture, says Edward Perlman, co-chair of Wolf Greenfield’s trademark group.

Transliterate, make sure to avoid embarrassing gaffes. Translating English into Chinese characters rarely works, so use transliteration to mimic the sound of English, Perlman advises.

Transliterate means to change letters, words, etc. into corresponding characters of another alphabet or language. Use Chinese words that sound like your trademark or that have that meaning. That takes creativity. Because there are multiple dialects in China, you’ll probably need more than one transliteration if you do business in different regions.

Your U.S. trademark law firm will need to hire a competent Chinese law firm, otherwise your transliteration could be nonsensical or downright embarrassing.

When Coca-Cola first entered China, it printed thousands of signs that rendered its name as ke-ke-ken-la, which translated to “bite the wax tadpole” or “female horse stuffed with wax” depending on the dialect. The company shifted course and found a close phonetic equivalent pronounced ko-kou-ko-le, loosely translated as “happiness in the mouth.”

KFC didn’t fare any better with its initial foray. It quickly discovered its slogan “finger lickin' good” came out as “eat your fingers off.” ...

Read the full story in the December issue of Inventors Digest.

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