Yangzhou serves up trademark fried rice

16:58, March 03, 2010      

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Yangzhou fried rice, a common cuisine so widespread it is served in high-end hotels and small restaurants across the country, was recently approved as a trademark after a decade of effort.

Supported by local authorities, the Yangzhou cuisine association first filed an application for trademark registration with the Trademark Office of the State Administration for Industry and Commerce in July, 2000.

The application was initially refused due to concerns that once the collective trademark was granted, making the dish outside Yangzhou could be considered illegal.

But in its approved form, the trademark will not exclude others from making the dish, the association said.

Though some argue that cuisine originated in Guangdong province, its name reveals a close tie to city of Yangzhou in East China's Jiangsu province, according to the association.

Legends say the recipe was created by Yang Su, a general in the Sui Dynasty (AD 581-618), one of founding emperor Yang Jian's most favored ministers. When the emperor visited Yangzhou, the dish traveled with him and became popular.

The original cuisine was quite simple, similar to egg fried rice made today, according to historical documents. After generations of innovation, it developed into a delicate recipe with numerous ingredients.

Zhang Houbao, the local association's honorary director, said he is proud of the cuisine's long history.

As a specific dish name, Yangzhou fried rice is not appropriate to be used as a trademark, experts say.

Trademark officials agreed, declining the first application and others in 2002 and 2007.

In the end, the persistent applicants took expert advice and changed their application from a collective trademark to a certification mark. At the same time, they gave up exclusive rights to use the name so the dish can be prepared and served in other regions.

The association said their motivation in seeking legal rights was not to gain a monopoly, but to standardize the recipe and maintain it as an established brand.

The application was finally granted in late 2008 without rights to exclusivity. The trademark is now simply a label to distinguish Yangzhou's cuisine from others.

Its registered trademark includes a logo that combines images of a rare flower, rice and a cooking pot to symbolize that it is fried rice with a taste in full bloom.

Its Chinese characters imitate the calligraphy of Yi Bingshou, an official in ancient Yangzhou, to celebrate his contributions to the old city, according to the association.

The Yangzhou cuisine association has now formulated standards for the dish. Any restaurant that can satisfy the requirements can be authorized to use the trademark, the association said.

Source: China Daily
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