But Chinese internet users were quick to point out that the design strongly resembles the corporate logo used by Disney, which operates theme parks in China and counts the country among its most important markets.
The design drew accusations of plagiarism on social media, and the hashtag “Dalian city logo” was trending on China’s Twitter-like Weibo platform. The design of the letter “D” and the swoop above the “i” drew particular attention.
Disney is not the first global company to have its brand or logo copied in China, where trademarks are generally awarded to whomever first files a claim with the government.
The issue went all the way to China’s top court, which ruled that the company must stop using Jordan’s name in Chinese characters.
Jason Y. Ng, a lawyer with the Hong Kong-based Progressive Lawyers Group, said the Dalian case should serve as a reminder to foreign companies about copycat behaviors in China.
“It underscores one of the perils of doing business in China, which operates on a whole different set of rules and scruples,” he said.
In response to the online criticism, organizers in Dalian said they were investigating the incident, while emphasizing that the logo had not been adopted for official use.
“According to the adjudication rules, all participants should own the copyright to their submissions,” it said, adding that the winner may be stripped of the title after the investigation.
— Laura He contributed to this report.