As names of some famous Chinese films have been registered as brands by some companies, legal experts have warned that filmmakers should be aware of the commercial value of their movies and protect their financial interests.
Chinese companies have repeatedly taken advantage of successful films and made their titles into brand names.
Latching onto the astounding popularity of the film Kung Fu Hustle, a Beijing paint company has taken the title and registered it as its brand name.
Another box office winner A World Without Thieves has also been registered as a brand name by a science and technology company in Beijing.
By doing so, the companies hope they can catch the eyes of potential consumers and, of course, sell more products.
Such behavior has aroused strong protests from filmmakers, who think the practice infringes on their intellectual property rights.
As a result, several lawsuits have been filed.
However, Li Mingzu, a senior legal expert in Beijing, says though the film itself is copyrighted material, current laws don't protect their names from being used.
"According to verdicts of past cases, the use of a film name as a brand doesn't violate intellectual property laws.
"And film titles won't be protected by intellectual property right laws."
However, Li Guoming, secretary-general of the China Filmmaker Association, says filmmakers can better protect their own rights if they can make good use of the added value of their works.
"Our filmmakers are not very clear about the extent of their films' commercial value. Their major income is ticket sales, but foreign filmmakers go far beyond that."
He suggested Chinese filmmakers seek to have their films published overseas or use film names for toys, costumes and even software products.
(Shenzhen Daily-Agencies January 5, 2005)