South Korean food producers are stepping up to address the growing distribution of copycat products in China.
The Korea Food Industry Association established a consortium of food producers to file a lawsuit against Qingdao Taeyangcho Food Co. and Zhengdao Food Co., the two largest K-food imitation producers in China, for violating intellectual property rights.
The consortium includes Samyang Food Co., CJ Cheiljedang Corp., Daesang Corp. and Ottogi Co.
The Chinese companies have been producing imitations of original Korean food products, illicitly copying their trademarks and design, releasing them as part of their ‘Sanai’ brand.
Their imitation of Samyang’s “Buldak Bokkeummyeon” instant noodles, in particular, is nearly identical to the original product.
While there have been various attempts by Korean businesses to put a stop to Chinese imitations, it is the first time for them to join hands in a trademark lawsuit against them, led by a shared interest in addressing the growing number of trademark violations in China as Korean food is becoming more and more popular.
Egg Drop, a South Korean sandwich brand, sued a Chinese imitator who used forged license documents to start a franchise in China, winning the case.
Dessert cafe franchise Sulbing also successfully asked the Chinese trademark commission to annul the trademark of a local ice flake producer that had been copying Seolbing’s products and trademarks last year.
The industry believes that the consortium’s lawsuit will not only boost the IP value of Korean food products, but also send out a warning to potential imitators.