How an Internationally Beloved Cartoon Character ‘Evicted’ Trademark Squatters
The Intellectual Property Strategist
Few people in the United States are likely to have heard of Crayon Shinchan, but this Japanese comic-book character is ubiquitous in China. Created in 1992 by Yoshito Usui and published in Japan by Futabasha Publishers Ltd., the comic book chronicles the antics of a high-spirited five-year-old boy, Shinchan, who is prone to indecent public exposure, propositioning older women, and peeking up women’s skirts. The story line combines the mischievousness of “Calvin and Hobbes” with the crude humor of “South Park” and is widely received in Japan. Shinchan’s popularity eventually invited trademark squatters in China.
By 1994, adoration for Shinchan had spread from Japan to Taiwan and Hong Kong. In 1996, anticipating Shinchan’s inevitable entrance to mainland China, Guangzhou Chengyi Eyeglass Co. Ltd. (“Chengyi”) became the first to use Shinchan’s image and name to register a series of trademarks in China. Thus began a legal battle implicating Futabasha’s copyrights and trademark rights over the incorrigible five-year-old. View entire article