It all began with a simple photograph, that would go viral on China’s social media.
Captured by a local cameraman, it depicted Tenzin, a Tibetan man with swarthy skin, big eyes, a sweet smile and thick hair.
Having received little education and unable to speak Mandarin, Tenzin worked as a herder looking after his family’s 200 yaks in a Tibetan inhabited county, located at around 4,000 meters above sea level.
Attracted by his rugged “Clint Eastwood” style — very different from male entertainment stars’ delicate looks — Tenzin is now viewed by many as the most handsome man in China, CGTN.com reported.
Yet, like many celebrity stories, in the rush to cash in on his newfound fame, it has brought him intellectual property troubles.
After he went viral, many companies applied to the Trademark Office of National Intellectual Property Administration to register the name “Dingzhen” (Chinese mandarin for Tenzin, a Tibetan name) as their brand name, CGTN.com reported.
And the products and services involved include daily necessities, educational, and travel services. Until now, all applications are waiting for the results from the Trademark Office.
Currently, on the official website of China’s Trademark Office, at least 22 companies registered their brand names as “Dingzhen,” and 12 of them applied for the name after November 14, the same day the 20-year-old young man in a remote county in Southwestern China’s Sichuan Province went viral on popular social media platform Douyin, CGTN.com reported.
Responding to this, the company where Tenzin works, recently applied to the national trademark office to register “Dingzhen Pearl” as its brand name in 26 categories of goods, including cosmetics, candy, and drinks.
“Pearl” is the name of Tenzin’s beloved horse that became famous along with its owner.
Four days after the Tibetan man emerged as a new online celebrity, a local state-owned Litang Cultural Tourism Investment Development Company quickly sensed the opportunity and hired him as a “cultural ambassador,” paying 3,500 yuan (US$530) a month with other benefits including insurance and a housing fund, CGTN.com reported.
Intellectual property experts believe that the company’s move will protect Tenzin’s name from being used in an abusive way and once the company’s application is approved, other companies that apply to use the same or similar name will all be rejected by the Trademark Office.
Ma Xiaodong, an intellectual property lawyer told a Shanghai-based news outlet that every time there is hot social news related to a certain celebrity, many companies will scramble to apply for the name as their brand, damaging the person or stakeholders, and at the same time, bringing challenges to the work of the Trademark Office.
He added that the brand name “Dingzhen Pearl” applied by the company where Tenzin works covers almost all commonly used goods and services so that the company in the future can do many businesses without worrying about brand duplication, CGTN.com reported.
Du Dong, the general manager of the company, told reporters that Tenzin will not enter the entertainment industry right now as he still has a lot to learn.
However, some experts say that if Tenzin can learn to act, his box office potential could be massive.
Currently, Tenzin is making videos about his hometown, promoting local tourism, and learning more about culture and useful skills, like Microsoft Office and social media platforms, like Weibo and WeChat.