China - Zhongnanhai Cigarettes -NGOs want name changed..

April 15, 2009 - An anti-tobacco non-government organizations (NGO) will submit a petition to the trademark authority today, April 14, 2009, asking it to discontinue the use of "Zhongnanhai" - the name of the central leadership compound - as a cigarette brand. Wu Yiqun, deputy director of the Beijing-based NGO, Think Tank Research Center for Health Development, at a symposium yesterday: "Using the sacred place's name as that of a cigarette brand is misleading consumers."

Zhongnanhai is one of China's famous cigarette brands, worth 7.8 billion yuan (1.1 billion U.S. dollars) in May last year (2008), the company said on its website, citing a report by the Beijing Intangible Assets Development and Research. "Buyers feel the cigarette brand is acknowledged by the central government, and see it as a symbol of high quality and authority," she said.

Legal experts believe using Zhongnanhai as a brand violates the Trademark Law. According to Article 10 of the Trademark Law revised in 2001, names of a central government office location cannot be used as brands, Huang Jinrong, a Beijing-based lawyer, said. But in 2006, the Beijing Trademark Bureau agreed to let the Beijing Tobacco Factory continue to use "Zhongnanhai" from 2007 to 2017 when the latter asked to renew the brand name, he said.

Reference: Chinese NGO wants cigarette brand name snuffed out,, 4/14/2009.