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Talk of the Day -- Should 'MISS WU' be registered as trademark?

Talk of the Day -- Should 'MISS WU' be registered as trademark?

Jason Wu became one of the few fashion designers to have twice designed inaugural gowns for an American first lady Monday when Michelle Obama wore his custom-designed ruby halter dress to her husband's second inaugural ball.
In 2009, the New York-based Taiwanese designer also tailored a one-shouldered white gown for the U.S. first lady for President Barack Obama's first inaugural ball.
Since the 1980s, only James Galanos had twice custom-designed presidential inaugural dresses for Nancy Reagan, according to local media reports. Wu might have won international recognition, but he nevertheless has suffered a setback in extending his fashion business in his homeland.
His application to register his sub-label "MISS WU" has been rejected by Taiwan's Intellectual Property Office (IPO).
On Monday, the Intellectual Property Court further turned down his appeal against the IPO ruling on the grounds that the label lacks both inherent and acquired distinctiveness, as well as convincing documentation to prove its brand awareness.
The following are excerpts from local media coverage of the topic: United Daily News: Wu applied to register three trademarks for his haute couture and accessories with the IPO in March 2011. The IPO approved two of the trademarks that Wu was hoping to register, but rejected the third one. The approved trademarks were the designer's main brand name "JASON WU" and an owl logo, while the failed one was his sub-label "MISS WU." Wu appealed his case to the Intellectual Property Court, but the petition was turned down again. The IPO said in its ruling that as Wu is a family name common in Taiwan and that "MISS WU" is just a title and cannot be exclusively associated with Jason Wu.
Wu had argued previously that if "Wu" is pronounced like the sound of an owl, it could inspire consumers to think about his fashion creations. He further said that "MISS WU" symbolizes feminism, which is a feature of his fashion designs.
The 30-year-old also said he has successfully registered "MISS WU" in the United States and many European countries.
Moreover, he went on, both Taiwan's first lady Chow Mei-ching and Mrs. Obama have worn "MISS WU"-branded outfits.
His arguments, however, convinced neither IPO officials nor the Intellectual Property Court, which rejected his appeal on Monday. (Jan. 22, 2013).
China Times: The Intellectual Property Court said in its ruling that "MISS WU" comprises uncharacteristic English letters that lack inherent distinctiveness.
Given the fact that Wu is a family name common in Taiwan, the court said few people would link the term to a fashion label.
Even though the label has been registered as a unique trademark in other countries, the court said it upheld the IPO's negative ruling because each country has its own screening standards.
The designer's older brother, Wu Chi-heng, said he was dismayed by the intellectual property administrators' snub.
"This is a brand created by a Taiwanese citizen. It's a pity that the label cannot be registered in Taiwan," Wu said.
Lin Kuo-chi, a local fashion designer, said there are many people surnamed Wu.
"Perhaps, this is the reason behind the IPO's rejection of Jason Wu's application," Lin said.
Another designer, Huang Chia-hsiang, suggested that Wu seek the advice of intellectual property rights experts to settle the issue.
"I look forward to seeing Jason Wu's haute couture or affordable dresses and accessories becoming available in Taiwan," he added. (Jan. 22, 2012) United Evening News: Jason Wu's mother said she hopes the IPO will adopt a more liberal and forward-looking attitude toward the trademark registration.
"I yearn to see Jason gain recognition in Taiwan now that he has managed to establish himself in the overseas fashion world," she added. Wu left Taiwan and moved to Vancouver, Canada at the age of 9, where he learned to sew by designing and making doll's clothes. He went on to study sculpture in Tokyo and later enrolled in Parsons the New School for Design, a college in New York City.
At age 16, Wu began to make freelance doll's clothing designs and later traveled around the world to study fashion design. Four years ago, he launched his own fashion store in New York with earnings from his years of doll designs. His first full collection debuted in 2006 and he won the Fashion Group International's Rising Star award in 2008. (Jan. 22, 2013).
(By Sofia Wu)


Updated : 2021-05-06 13:06 GMT+08:00