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Learning English - Words in the News
02 July, 2004 - Published 11:32 GMT
Shaolin Temple trademark
Shaolin Monks
Shaolin Monks

The monks of China’s Shaolin Temple have applied to trademark their name in more than eighty countries. The Buddhist temple is known throughout the world as the place where Shaolin Kung Fu, a unique form of martial arts, originated. This report from Dan Collyns.

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The superhuman feats of agility and balance performed by the Shaolin monks have inspired many a Hong Kong and Hollywood martial arts movie.

Their reputation was sealed by an American 1970s’ television series starring David Carradine as a Kung Fu apprentice, Kwai Chang Caine, or Grasshopper, as he was known to his wise teacher at the Shaolin Temple.

But the monks' reputation among legions of Kung Fu fans has led to a host of applications to use their temple's name to advertise products.

In China alone, there are fifty-four Shaolin trademarks in use, advertising everything from car tyres to beer and cigarettes.

Meanwhile the China Trademark and Patent Law Office says it's fending off one hundred and twenty competing applications from around the world to use Shaolin as a trademark.

The abbot at the fifteen-hundred-year-old Shaolin Temple says his monks can't perform abroad, as they risk violating trademarks in other countries.

But now, the monks with the reputation for physical toughness are finally sticking up for themselves. As well as seeking their own trademark, they've also applied for their temple to be listed as a UNESCO cultural heritage site.

Dan Collyns, BBC

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superhuman feats
impressive and difficult acts or movements that other people cannot do

people who have agility can move quickly and easily

their reputation was sealed
they became famous

legions of
very many

a host of

a trademark is a name or symbol that a company uses on its products, and which cannot be used by other companies

a patent is an official right to be the only person or company to make and sell a new product

fending off
if you fend off someone who is attacking you, you try to stop them

if you violate an agreement, you break it

sticking up for
if you stick up for someone, you defend and support them

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