Bun chain steamed in brand ker­fuf­fle

Qing Feng ac­cuses oth­ers of trad­ing on its rep­u­ta­tion af­ter Xi’s visit

China Daily (Canada) - - CHINA - By HOU LIQIANG houliqiang@chi­nadaily.com.cn

A steamed-bun shop in Bei­jing, which made head­lines in De­cem­ber when Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping tasted its of­fer­ings in a sur­prise visit, is con­sid­er­ing le­gal ac­tion af­ter it dis­cov­ered that buns are be­ing sold un­der its name with­out its per­mis­sion.

Qing Feng Steamed Dumpling Shop an­nounced its in­ten­tion to pro­tect its brand af­ter it dis­cov­ered buns it sold to a theme park in Chang­sha, Hu­nan prov­ince, were resold to cus­tomers un­der the brand name of Qing Feng.

Chang­sha Win­dow of the World, a theme park, bought 5,000 cooked buns from a branch of the Qing Feng com­pany on Jan 22 and sold them in a tem­ple fair it or­ga­nized on Jan 31 at a price of 5 yuan ($0.80) each.

The aver­age price of a Qing Feng bun is about 1 yuan each. The bun Xi or­dered, for ex­am­ple, which is stuffed with pork and green onions, costs 3.5 yuan for three.

While Qing Feng buns got na­tion­wide pub­lic­ity af­ter Xi’s visit, the com­pany has no plans to ex­pand its busi­ness to ar­eas out­side Bei­jing this year.

“When the com­pany or­dered the buns from our branch, they didn’t tell us that they would sell the buns un­der the name of our com­pany,’’ said Zhu Yul­ing, gen­eral man­ager of the restau­rant chain’s hold­ing com­pany, Bei­jing Hu­a­tian Restau­rant Group.

At the fair, the buns were ad­ver­tised on a large dis­play read­ing, “Qing Feng steamed buns have ar­rived”.

Zhu said the Chang­sha com­pany ig­nored three warn­ings is­sued by Qing Feng since Jan 25.

“They bought the buns on Jan 22 and started to sell them on Jan 31. The fla­vor of the buns could not be guar­an­teed af­ter such a long time,” Zhu said, adding that this will harm the brand.

The Chang­sha com­pany used the “Qing Feng buns” slo­gan in their commercial ac­tiv­ity and also used the reg­is­tered trade­mark of Qing Feng in pack­ag­ing, table­ware and sign­boards, said Li Chang­gui, a le­gal ad­viser to Qing Feng, at a news con­fer­ence on Wed­nes­day.

Zhu said his com­pany has ev­i­dence of copy­right in­fringe­ment and will re­sort to le­gal ac­tion if the Chang­sha com­pany re­fuses to ac­knowl­edge the breach of copy­right.

Qing Feng buns were reg­is­tered with the na­tional trade­mark of­fice in 1998 and in 2010 were de­clared a Fa­mous Bei­jing Trade­mark by commercial au­thor­i­ties in the cap­i­tal.

The Chang­sha com­pany said in a state­ment posted on its of­fi­cial mi­cro blog that it did not de­clare or sug­gest it was act­ing in co­op­er­a­tion with Qing Feng on any oc­ca­sion.

The state­ment also said the buns it sold were from a branch of Qing Feng and it ad­hered to all as­pects of the sup­ply agree­ment.

The com­pany also de­nied that it marked up the price un­fairly. They said that freight charges work out to about 3.25 yuan per bun.

The state­ment also said Qing Feng’s in­ter­nal com­mu­ni­ca­tions be­tween var­i­ous branches was at fault.

A spokesman for the Chang­sha com­pany de­clined to com­ment fur­ther and re­ferred to the state­ment when con­tacted on Thurs­day.

No new shops

Qing Feng branches now have to re­port to head­quar­ters first be­fore they sell large quan­ti­ties of buns to cus­tomers, Zhu said.

Qing Feng has 180 shops in Bei­jing and three in Yan­jiao, He­bei prov­ince. New out­lets will only be opened out­side Bei­jing if the qual­ity of the in­gre­di­ents and recipe can be guar­an­teed,” Zhu said. “Other­wise, it’s ir­re­spon­si­ble to our cus­tomers.”

Zhu said the com­pany has or­ga­nized a spe­cial team to mon­i­tor qual­ity, and those shops that fail to reach spec­i­fied stan­dards would be shut down.

The pres­i­dent vis­ited a branch on Yue­tan North Street in Xicheng district in De­cem­ber. He lined up to or­der his food and then sat down to eat it with other cus­tomers. The com­pany’s daily sales have risen by up to 40 per­cent since the visit.

Zhu said he re­ceived many calls from po­ten­tial busi­ness part­ners ask­ing whether they could join his group and how they could be­come part­ners. Feng Zhi­wei in Chang­sha con­trib­uted to this story.

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