STERLING, Va., Oct. 19 /PRNewswire/ -- In an astounding case of callous disregard for U.S. consumers, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) has denied registration of the trademark "China-Free"* submitted by the manufacturer of Opurity vitamins, who simply wishes to provide customers with an informed choice for obtaining vitamins containing no ingredients from China.
Trademark registration was refused because it was deemed to be "disparaging" to China and promoted a "stereotype that all Chinese manufacturers make poor quality goods."
"The PTO made a subjective and arbitrary decision in denying our trademark," said Jerome Krachenfels, executive vice president of ProSynthesis Laboratories, Inc. owner of Opurity Vitamins. "We're not saying that all products from China are shoddy, but there are numerous recent examples of contaminated, counterfeit, adulterated and dangerous products coming from China." The problem is serious enough that FDA head Margaret Hamburg traveled to China last month to address the safety of goods coming into the U.S.
"So we want to establish via a trademark that none of the ingredients in our vitamins are from China," Mr. Krachenfels said. "Consumers should have the best opportunity to understand what they're buying for a product as critical to health as vitamins." In an IBM survey last year, 75 percent of consumers clearly expressed a desire to know the origin of their food.
Even in its decision, the PTO admitted that "recent newsworthy events have highlighted that [some] Chinese manufacturers do not make quality products..." The ruling was that much more of a surprise as the PTO's initial notice had indicated registration was unobjectionable other than asking for a technical correction to the application. According to Opurity's attorney, the spontaneous rescission was highly unusual, smacking of some type of extraordinary intervention at a higher level.
Opurity is the first, and currently the only, company in the vitamin industry to make the guarantee: "No Ingredients from China."
"It's been a challenging two years to get to where we can actually make that guarantee," said Mr. Krachenfels, "because a high percentage of vitamin ingredients are from China." "We are open about where our ingredients and raw materials come from. We don't see the same openness from other vitamin companies."
"Opurity is a classic American small business working to give consumers a better safer product without ingredients from a source that continues to be risky.." Mr. Krachenfels said. "At times it seems that the Obama Administration cares more about placating and kowtowing to China than protecting its own citizens. We've felt like David going up against Goliath China, but with the PTO's refusal, now we're struggling with our own government. It's the consuming public who will be the real loser if this unwarranted decision stands."
The company has vowed to appeal the denial. "We'll go as far as we have to go to right this wrong," a determined Mr. Krachenfels said. "The public interest demands it."
ProSynthesis Laboratories was founded in 2002 by Mr. Krachenfels and his wife Martha M. Krachenfels, MS RD, who holds an MS in clinical nutrition. The company began marketing its Opurity line of vitamins in 2010.
*The trademark includes a diamond between the two words.
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