TRADEMARKS: The Great Helmsmouse

The Great Helmsmouse

At least one cult figure still retains a devoted following in China these days: Mickey Mouse. The perky Disney character pops up on Chinese garment and toy logos, on billboards and in newspaper ads. Mickey's smiling features are, in fact, one of the most ubiquitous Western images in the land.

Most of that popularity benefits the U.S. firm Walt Disney, which has registered 350 trademarks for its products in China, including 45 that feature Mickey. But unauthorized copying of the familiar mouse image has reached the point that six weeks ago, an official Chinese tabloid, Market, had to warn would-be pirates...