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Yao Ming Fights Namesake Sanitary Pad Plan
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A south China businessman has applied to register the name of the Chinese NBA player Yao Ming as a brand for female sanitary napkins, triggering complaints from the public and Yao's agent.

Xiao Senwen, of Zijin County, Guangdong Province, wants the trademark for a range of products including sanitary pads, diapers, sportswear, beer and metal ware.

Lu Hao, a member of Yao Ming's business and consultancy group, Team Yao, said the registration took them by surprise as it covered women's personal items.

"Yao Ming's name has been registered as a brand several times in the past, but this time is different. We are going to oppose this proposal," Lu was quoted by the Beijing News as saying.

The registration has already won preliminary approval from the trademark bureau of the State Administration for Industry and Commerce, which has put it on its website for three-month public notification before final decision.

Lu said Team Yao would object during the notification period, which would start on November 14.

According to Chinese trademark regulations, newly-registered brands take immediate effect if no objection is submitted.

The registration has aroused concern among Yao's fans, who complained on the Internet.

"It is a very indecent exploitation of our favorite basketball player," said one message on Tom. Com.

"It's selfish because the businessman is pursuing profit at the expense of a celebrity's image," said another.

About three quarters of people who left opinions on the Internet were against the registration, saying the trade bureau should have turned down the application and it would be disappointing if it was approved.

However, some people could see no harm in associating Yao's name with feminine products.

"I wouldn't feel it was an insult to Yao. This Guangdong guy's motive might not be good, but what's wrong with feminine products? Are they not entitled to be mentioned publicly?" said a government employee in Beijing surnamed Li.

Lu said Team Yao had tried to avoid unfavorable trademark registrations by officially registering Yao Ming as a trademark for more than 20 categories of products including sportswear, but they still had problems.

"We will register the other 40-odd categories in coming days," he said.

Early in July, a man named Li Zhenyong from Fujian Province wanted to register the trademark of China Central Television for condoms, but failed. But another condom maker has been using "Phoenix", which looks similar and sounds the same as the Hong Kong-based Phoenix TV.
Yao Ming racked up 35 points and 17 rebounds today, tying his personal best of seven blocks to lead the Rockets to win over the New York Knicks, 103-94. The home victory has extended their winning streak to three. Five other players on the team also joined Yao Ming in double digits.

(Xinhua News Agency, CRI November 11, 2006)


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