Tongrentang, or Tong Ren Tang (Chinese: 同仁堂) is a Chinese
pharmaceuticalcompany founded in 1669, which is now the largest producer of traditional Chinese medicine(TCM). The company is headquartered in Beijing, and is engaged in both manufactureand retail sales, operating drug stores predominantly in Northeast China.
In 1669, the 8th year of
Emperor Kangxi’s reign of the Qing Dynasty(1644-1911), Tong Ren Tang was established in Beijing by Yue Xianyang who served as a senior physicianof the royal court of the Qing Dynasty. In 1702, the company relocated within Beijing to the address from which it has operated ever since. In 1723, Tong Ren Tang was appointed the sole supplier of medicinal herbs/herbal medicines to the royal court of the Qing Dynastyby Emperor Yongzhengand remained in that position until the collapse of the Qing Dynasty in 1911.
Like many older Chinese companies, Tong Ren Tang has struggled to adapt to market changes. In recent years, Tong Ren Tang has modernized its facilities, and changed its trade name to Tongrentang. It remains one of the oldest surviving
brand names for traditional Chinese medicine, and has wide name-recognition among Chinese and Asians worldwide. It is also one of the world's largest TCM companies, with products sold in countries all over the world. Hong Kongbillionaire Li Ka-shingbecame a major player in Tongrentang's business dealings, becoming the second largest shareholder in the corporation in 2000, with the purchase of sixty million shares. Li's company, Hutchison Whampoa Ltd., has had two major joint ventures with Tongrentang. In 2004, Tongrentang invested 150 million Hong Kong dollars in the construction of a manufacturing plant in Hong Kong.
In October 2007, TongRenTang and an American company called Greater China Corporation jointly announced the formation of a partnership under the name TongRenTang Wellness Corporation to "develop spa-like wellness centers that will provide treatments and products based upon China's famous TongRenTang herbal medicines. These will include
acupuncture, massage, acupressure, Tuina, Tai-Chi, Qigong, reflexologyand many other oriental treatments as well as a full line of herbal foods and health products". [ [http://jacksonville.bizjournals.com/albany/prnewswire/press_releases/New_York/2007/10/15/NYM156 Greater China Corporation Forms TongRenTang Wellness Corporation] .]
In 2001,Tongrentang, in collaboration with Germany-based Mirahi Biotech, diversified into skincare products. Using state-of-the-art western technologies and the vast cache of herbal medicines of Tongrentang, the collaboration has come up with an impressive list of products. In 2008, the exclusive U.S. distributorship is licensed to a California corporation, Denosim Incorporated, and the products are being distributed by MIRAHI Skincare, Inc., San Jose, California, USA.
Intellectual property rights
Possibly because of its very size, Tongrentang has recently been at the center of a number of disputes brought in the
courts of China. In November of 2004, mediationby the High People's Court of the Province of Zhejiang brought about a settlement in favor of Tongrentang for trademarkinfringement - a relatively new cause of action in China.
Tongrentang's problems with
intellectual propertyrights are not limited to China. It is also one of the many Chinese companies whose products have been counterfeited for sale "inside" and "outside" of China as well. China's Ministry of Commerce notes that "Tongrentang ... and others have had their names illegally registered by other Chinese and overseas manufacturers, resulting in a predicament in exports, multinational exchanges and potential economic losses."
Tort law suit
December 14of 2004, Tongrentang company was subject to a lawsuitbrought against it in the Chinese court system, in which Chinese plaintiffsalleged that medicines produced by the company contained an ingredient that had caused their kidney failure. The Beijing No 2 Intermediate People's Court dismissed the case, finding insufficient proof of a connection between the medicines and the injury. Such a lawsuit would have been unheard of in China even a few years before. Nevertheless, a consumer group cited the outcome as evidence of court bias against such suits, stating that the case "topped the list of the 10 worst consumer exploitation cases."
* [http://www.tongrentang.com Tong Ren Tang Website (Chinese and English)]
* [http://www.tongrentangsw.com/ Beijing Tongrentang Biological Development Company (Chinese and English)]
* [http://www.chinatoday.com.cn/English/e2005/e200506/p72.htm Venerable Tong Ren Tang goes global - China Today, June 2005 ]
* [http://www.edu.cn/20010101/22574.shtml Centuries-Old Firm Adapts Traditional Chinese Medicine to Modern World]
* [http://en.ce.cn/Industries/Medicine/200410/29/t20041029_2127656.shtml Tong Ren Tang to establish overseas plant]
* [http://english.sina.com/taiwan_hk/1/2005/0422/28789.html Top Chinese medicine maker builds Hong Kong base]
* [http://en.ce.cn/Industries/Medicine/200411/30/t20041130_2433716.shtml Hutchison to form traditional medicine venture]
* [http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/english/doc/2005-03/16/content_425353.htm Shoppers of the world unite on rights]
* [http://english.epochtimes.com/news/4-10-4/23606.html China’s Established and Famous Brands Are Fading]
* [http://www.hfgip.com/en/view?article=836146790405 Beijing TONG REN TANG Sued Wenzhou YE TONG REN TANG for Trademark Infringement]
* [http://english.mofcom.gov.cn/aarticle/counselorsreport/americaandoceanreport/200504/20050400082339.html Chinese companies learn to protect their IPR]
* [http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2005-02/28/content_2629307.htm Master changed for "Dog Won't Touch Dumplings"]
* [http://www.bjreview.com.cn/En-2005/05-27-e/china-5.htm "Time-Honored Brands Struggle"]
* [http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/english/doc/2005-05/20/content_444144.htm "Chinese pill brings hope for coma boy" China Daily 2005-05-27]
* [http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/bizchina/2006-06/06/content_609744.htm "Most valuable brands in China" China Daily 2006-06-06]
* [http://www.mirahi.com MIRAHI Skincare, Inc.]
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