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Chinese candy copycat sours French sweetmakers

 | November 18, 2016

A businessman in the eastern province of Zhejiang, Ye Chunlin now holds the rights to the name "Calissons d'Aix" and "Kalisong" until 2026.

calissonsMARSEILLE: They are one of southern France’s favourite treats. But the traditional almond calisson sweets from Aix-en-Provence may be about to get an unwanted Chinese makeover.

To the horror of French candy connoisseurs, a businessman in the eastern province of Zhejiang has registered the trademarks “Calissons d’Aix” and “Kalisong”, a distinctly Chinese rendering of the famous marzipan-like confectionary.

With such sweet French patisserie treats as macarons becoming fashionable in China, the makers of real French calissons fear they could be about to lose a potentially lucrative slice of the Chinese cake.

“No calissons have yet be produced in China to our knowledge,” said Laure Pierrisnard, boss of the biggest French maker, Roy Rene.

But the trade body she heads has already launched a legal challenge to the brand in China, where the businessman Ye Chunlin now holds the rights to the name until 2026.

Contacted by AFP, Ye said he had registered the brands in good faith. “Every country has it laws… Personally, I do business within the rules.”

But he refused to say whether he was about to start making either Chinese calissons or “kalisongs”.

“We did not register this brand to do anything wrong, we have no intention to do that,” he added.

However, a Chinese tannery registered the “IPHONE” trademark in 2007 for its leather goods to the ire of the electronics giant Apple.

The US company later lost a copyright case against it.

“In China the first person to register a brand generally gets protection,” the chamber of commerce of the European Union in Beijing said.

However, the owner of the brand has to use it within three years or risk losing it.


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