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Colgate-Palmolive Not Rebranding China’s Darlie/Black Person’s Toothpaste Based on Recent Trademark Filings?

In June 2020, in light of the Black Lives Matter movement, Colgate Palmolive announced they would consider rebranding (“evolve”) Darlie (previously Darkie) toothpaste which is known in Chinese as 黑人牙膏 (Black Person’s Toothpaste).  The rebranding looked liked it was going ahead based on Chinese trademark filings made by Colgate affiliate 好维股份有限公司 (Hawley and Hazel (BVI) Co. Ltd.) in June 2020 for 卫觉公式 and HYMULA.  However, since then Hawley has continued to file marks for Black Person and variants that many would consider offensive, such as for 小黑人 (Black Youth or Small/Young Black Person) filed in February 2021 as application number 53502670 in class 32.

Current registered Chinese TM 3551789 for Darlie toothpaste.
Thai version of Darkie Toothpaste from 1988.

Since the filings of the potential rebranding trademarks, Hawley has filed trademarks for 小黑人 (Black Youth) in Class 32, 黑人 (Black Person) in Classes  1, 6, 9, 10, 11, 14, 27 and 34; DARLIE 专研 (Specialized) in class 3; and DARLIE 超白 (Super White) in class 3.   There may be additional relevant trademarks filed that are not yet public.  In contrast, the potential rebranding trademarks were only filed in classes 3, 5, and 21.

The potential rebranding marks were published for opposition and are to go into effect February 21, 2021.  Accordingly, Hawley may just be waiting for the marks to grant before going ahead with rebranding. That said, if a rebranding was truly in process, it is unclear why Hawley would proceed with additional trademark filings based on variations of the original trademark and in so many classes versus only three for the new trademark (i.e., 3 for HYMULA versus 8 for Black Person).  The potential rebranding marks may actually be for a new product line instead.

In the meantime, Darlie continues to be sold in China and even in the U.S. via Amazon and other sellers.

The potential rebranding of Darlie toothpaste follows a wave of announcements of U.S. rebrandings of offensive consumer products including Aunt Jemima pancake mix and syrup and Uncle Ben’s rice.

The South China Morning Post has a good history of the Darlie brand here.

List of Chinese Trademarks Filed For After Filing for Potential Rebranding Marks
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Author:
Director of China Intellectual Property Practice

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