Recently, the China Trademark Office (CTMO) rejected the application for “蒙蒂普尔查诺” (read as “Meng Di Pu Er Cha Nuo”) in Class 33 for wine and liquor, because the CTMO deemed that the applied trademark of “蒙蒂普尔查诺” (Meng Di Pu Er Cha Nuo) was similar to the European Geographical Indication of “Montepulciano d’Abruzzo”.

We are happy to acknowledge the good functioning of the China trademark system. The CTMO has spontaneously found out that such 6 Chinese characters could be a translation of the well-known Italian geographical indication for red wine and therefore terminated the creation of potential monopoly on the use of such a word. The rejection came without requiring any effort and cost to the association which protected and developed the geographical indication.

We wish to stress how difficult could be for the CTMO to intercept and cease such applications considering that the Chinese translation is not univocal. Indeed, “蒙蒂普尔查诺”(read as “Meng Di Pu Er Cha Nuo”) is not the only translation for “Montepulciano”. The Chinese standard SBT-11122-2015 Norm of Terminology Translation of Imported Wines (进口葡萄酒相关术语翻译规范) provides two different translations for the geographical indication “Montepulciano” but none is the same as the one whose registration as trademark was terminated recently. In accordance with the aforementioned standard, when Montepulciano stands for the grape name, it is translated as “蒙帕塞诺” (read as “Meng Pa Sai Nuo”); while when Montepulciano stands for the name of the county, it is translated as “蒙特普齐亚诺” (read as “Meng Te Pu Qi Ya Nuo”). The above-identified applied trademark is another translation which is also well-known to consumers.

Translating food names and trademarks is complex and thus we wish companies operating in China to pay high attention to this.