Western brand-owners know only too well the headaches of doing business in China where enforcement of intellectual property rights often leaves much to be desired. But it turns out that China's own multinationals are starting to experience similar problems when they expand overseas. Touché, as they say.
According to the Financial Times, two Chinese individuals have applied for trademark registration in Canada for the names and logos of more than 60 Chinese companies.
The victims include Nasdaq-listed internet portal Sohu, drinks company Wang Laoji, as well as financial firms China Investment Corp and Bank of China.
According to one IPR expert interviewed by the FT, every large or well-known Chinese company that prepares to expand overseas faces the risk of having its trademark registered by someone else in that market first.
Often the motivation is to stymie a Chinese company's overseas expansion on behalf of a direct competitor. In other cases, customers, distributors or retail partners make the application for registration, or individuals apply with the aim of selling the trademarks back to the company.
The Chinese government wants home-grown firms to fight harder for their trademarks overseas as part of an effort to combat the widespread perception that it is only western businesses that suffer IPR infringements at the hands of Chinese.