MLGB campaign featuring Li Chen and Wilber Pan.

PLAYING WITH FIRE: Streetwear brand MLGB, founded by the Chinese TV presenter Li Chen and Taiwanese singer Wilber Pan, lost its trademark on Monday after a Beijing intellectual property court ruled that the name endangers “socialist morality,” or mainstream values.

According to local media reports, four lawyers approached the state watchdog in 2015, seeking the annulment of the MLGB trademark, which is widely seen as a pinyin, or Latin alphabetical spelling, abbreviation of a vulgar Chinese expression.

China’s state administration for industry and commerce, trademark review and adjudication board annulled the trademark in November 2016. Junke Trade Co., the company behind MLGB, responded with two lawsuits challenging the decision. The company argued that MLGB stands for “My Life Is Getting Better” rather than the offensive expression.

On March 4, the Beijing intellectual property court upheld its original judgment, arguing the trademark “may endanger the socialist morality.”

Although the MLGB name can no longer be used in China, Li and Pan remain very influential in the region. In 2009 in Shanghai, they founded the streetwear brand NPC, or New Project Center, another acronym that could potentially cause trouble as it also stands for National People’s Congress. As of now, no lawsuits have been filed.

NPC, which is also operated under Junke Trade Co., is one of the more successful streetwear brands in China. It has an e-commerce business and six stores located in Shanghai, Chengdu, Xi’an and Hangzhou. Turnover was 56 million renminbi, or $8.38 million, in 2018. NPC presented its latest collection during New York Fashion Week as a part of Tmall China Day earlier last month.

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