Our reporter Sun Jizheng reports from Beijing

  In the eyes of the public, local snacks have become a hot spot due to "trademark infringement".

A few days ago, merchants who used the names of Xiaoyao’s Hulatang and Tongguan Roujiamo were sued by the Association and demanded compensation from the merchants, which became hot news. When it caused public dissatisfaction, the State Intellectual Property Office pointed out that the above-mentioned rights protection activities exceeded the intention of protecting trademarks. It ended with an apology from the association to the public.

  Local specialty snacks were originally a "small business" for locals to go to other towns, but now snack associations and even groups have been established behind the snacks. These organizations are burdened with the mission of developing and revitalizing specialty snacks.

Such as Shaxian Snacks and Lanzhou Ramen have become invisible national chain enterprises.

  But for many local snacks, the most problematic is how to get out of localization.

An insider in the catering chain pointed out to a reporter from China Business News that there are two options for many Chinese snacks to go out. One is to process the products into convenience foods for external sales, and the other is to expand outward in the form of the catering industry through the migration of personnel. .

Although there are successful precedents, there is a certain degree of non-replicability, so many snacks still face the problem of going out.

Snack Association "Deteriorating"

  In China, every place has characteristic classic snacks. For the inheritance and promotion of snacks, the localities often set up relevant associations and apply to the Trademark Office for the "Geographical Indication Collective Trademark".

The well-known Shaxian snacks, Yunnan Guoqiao rice noodles, Lanzhou ramen, etc., which are well-known to the public, all have associations and have applied for group trademarks.

  The reporter found that the associations that have been committed to trademark rights protection are not limited to Tongguan Roujiamo and Xiaoyao Hu spicy soup. Many associations including Liuzhou snail powder have similar trademark lawsuits. These associations have been working on trademark rights protection. The characteristic is that the time for establishing and applying for a trademark does not exceed ten years, and there are many such litigations.

  In response, the State Intellectual Property Office replied: Legally, "Xiaoyao Town" is a common trademark, and its registrant cannot collect so-called "membership fees" on this basis.

"Tongguan Roujiamo" is a geographical indication registered as a collective trademark, and its registrant has no right to license the use of this geographical indication collective trademark to merchants outside the specific area of ​​Tongguan and charge a franchise fee.

At the same time, it has no right to prohibit businesses in a specific area of ​​Tongguan from properly using the geographical names in the collective geographical indication trademark.

  The reporter noticed that in the past ten years, snacks across the country have established associations and registered collective trademarks.

For example, in 2020, the official Weibo of the "Hubei Daily" announced that "Xiangyang Beef Noodles" was registered as a collective trademark, and "Xiangyang Beef Noodles" was registered as a collective trademark.

  According to Wang Jinhua of Pinyuan Law Firm, which is engaged in trademark disputes, Tongguan Roujiamo and Xiaoyao Town Hula Tang are typical geographical indication collective trademarks. Residents and merchants in the area have the right to use the trademark, and use outside the area does exist. For the possibility of infringement, the association can request merchants to change and protect their rights through normal channels, but the above-mentioned association’s use of it as a means to increase revenue violates the essence of trademark protection, so all parties have "verbal criticism".

  Many catering associations sit on the orthodox names and trademarks of well-known snacks from all over the world. Why do they end up here?

“Most of the above-mentioned snack associations were established by the local government to inherit and promote local excellent snacks. However, as to how to develop local snacks, the relevant departments are laymen in the chain or industry. Although they have ideas, they are difficult to implement." Industry experts Wen Zhihong said, the problem is that China’s excellent snacks are very abundant. How to go out is a difficult problem. Although Tongguan Roujiamo and Xiaoyao Hu spicy soup are well-known in the local area, they are not household names in terms of national popularity. They operate snacks. Going everywhere is what the association should do.

Behind the rising snack

  As the snack chain with the largest number of stores and the largest coverage in the country, Shaxian Snacks, its successful experience has been discussed by the public.

From the perspective of popularity, Shaxian snacks were the same as most snacks in the early years, and their influence was difficult to cover the whole country. The biggest problem with Shaxian snacks was that no product could be known to women and children.

  The industry believes that the success of Shaxian snacks mainly lies in the organization model of anti-modern management, that is, the coexistence of individuals and enterprises, and does not distinguish between the so-called true and false. For individual Shaxian snacks, as long as the signboard does not imitate the Shaxian snack group The Shaxian Snack Group never deliberately defends rights and suppresses individual Shaxian snacks. This has led to completely different Shaxian snack shops across the country.

  However, the Shaxian Snack Group has offices throughout the country and can provide upstream supplies for all Shaxian snacks. This enables the self-employed Shaxian snacks to obtain a stable supply of products, while the quality control gradually stabilizes.

According to data, since 1997, the Shaxian government has vigorously built a supply chain system and established Shaxian Snack Association’s foreign liaison offices in major cities, which are mainly responsible for the coordination, management, distribution, and dispute resolution of Shaxian snacks. Local offices can even help Shaxian people provide free training, which makes Shaxian people more enthusiastic about going to a foreign land to start a business.

  "The strategy of Shaxian Snacks is not to suppress any self-employed, and there are no thresholds, and any store requirements. After consumers gradually become aware of the dishes and taste of Shaxian snacks, the self-employed will actively seek the upstream supply chain and training of the group to achieve consumption. The taste is recognized by consumers.” Franchise expert Li Weihua said that although Shaxian snacks cannot meet the factory-level food standards of KFC, as local snacks, consumers can accept its differentiation.

It can be said that Shaxian snacks are a successful case of localized transformation after absorbing the upstream food supply chain system of western restaurant chains.

  In addition, the well-known Lanzhou Ramen is based on the Lanzhou Ramen Industry Association, providing technical training, production and processing, logistics and distribution, chain management and other services to members of the association.

But whether it is Shaxian snacks or Lanzhou ramen, many self-employed people have an attitude of acceptance and will not suppress the existence of non-members of the association.

The above-mentioned industry professionals believe that the spread of Shaxian snacks and Lanzhou ramen across the country is inseparable from the large number of self-employed businesses. It can be said that the self-employed have made local consumers aware of this kind of snacks.

  "Shaxian snacks are the most unique existence in the case of a restaurant chain. Its success involves the support of the local government, the local people's thoughts and clan relationships that go to various places to start businesses, so it is difficult to be imitated by other brands. But the success process of Lanzhou Ramen In fact, there are quite a lot of reflections." Wen Zhihong said that the Lanzhou Ramen Industry Association did not suppress self-employed individuals, but improved the management level of the members of the association, and improved food quality and service as much as possible. Brands such as Ma Zilu Beef Noodles have gradually become The symbol of high-end beef noodles makes the brand height larger than the self-employed, forming the advantages of the brand and the association.

  Snack chain attracts capital attention

  Catering professionals believe that for a long time, snacks, as the low-end industrial chain of the catering industry, have been difficult to attract the attention of capital. However, the living environment of the catering industry has changed since last year, and low-input, low-risk snack chains have begun to be capitalized. focus on.

  In recent years, domestic snacks have shown an explosive trend.

Data from online platforms show that snail noodles have been the most popular snack product in 2019 and 2020.

Liuzhou is the birthplace of snail noodles. In 2020, the sales revenue of Liuzhou snail noodles will reach 11 billion yuan, the sales income of supporting and derivative products will be 13 billion yuan, and the online sales of bags will reach 1.1 billion bags.

  Although the snail noodle industry is thriving, the Liuzhou snail noodle industry does not focus on restaurant chains, but on convenience food.

Chinese food industry analyst Zhu Danpeng believes that “snail noodles, as a snack that has exploded in recent years, is mainly due to its special taste, and it can replace instant noodles and other foods, and has the ability to promote quickly.”

  Liu Hui, a person in the restaurant chain industry, pointed out that the main reason why snail noodles choose convenience food as the main channel is that the snack brand has always been favored by capital.

“Snacks such as Shaxian snacks and Lanzhou ramen noodles are not strictly catering chain brands, but a general term for a type of food. For a long time, no snack brand in the true sense has achieved national coverage." Liu Hui said that for a long period of time, catering chains without open flame back kitchens such as barbecues and hot pots were the capital's favorites.

  But this phenomenon has gradually changed since last year.

In April 2020, Haidilao opened its first 18-boiled noodle restaurant with a unit price of 9.9 yuan, which attracted attention.

This year, Zhang Lala, Ma Jiyong and Chen Xianggui have received tens of millions or even hundreds of millions of yuan in financing.

Later, Xiaomanjiao, Shengxiangting, Kuafu Fried Skewers, Momo Dim Sum Bureau, etc. also ushered in an investment boom. Even after Lu Zhengyao left Ruixing Coffee, he also stepped into the snack industry and founded Qu Xiaonian.

  It is worth noting that these emerging snack brands have chosen to avoid the location of snacks in their names.

Wen Zhihong believes that one is to avoid infringement, and the other is to try to cater to the preferences of young people through new brands.

"Old brands actually have the problem of avoiding territorial names. For example, Xi Shaoye Roujiamo evaded the aforementioned risks when it opened a store in Beijing."

  "Although snacks cannot be cooked without an open flame, the production process of most snacks is relatively simple, especially for noodles, snail noodles, and rice noodles. The upstream production and processing have reached the standard of semi-finished dishes. Processing can be served on the table, so it is easier to form standardization.” Liu Hui said that snacks often do not require much store size and decoration. They can open stores quickly and reduce losses when they close. The operator can respond to real-time feedback. The number and locations of the stores are adjusted in time.

  But Wen Zhihong pointed out that the reason why snack chains have not invested heavily in capital for a long time is largely due to the low rate of consumer repurchase and strong substitution.

"However, due to the relatively low operating costs of snack chains, snacks have become a better choice for venture capital under the relatively low tide of the catering industry in recent years."