The Dram Shop, a popular Chinese drama, is fighting a legal battle over a controversial clause in its contract that says it can’t sell shows to other media outlets.
The clause, first reported by the Wall Street Journal, prevents any new entrants to the marketplace from buying from the company.
In response, Dram Shop said Monday it has filed an appeal of the ruling in China’s Supreme Court.
Dram Shop also said it has already hired more than 200 lawyers to pursue its case.
“This is an important victory for Chinese-American audiences, for our members, for the Chinese-speaking American market and for Chinese culture,” Dram Shop’s president and CEO, Li Wen, told the WSJ.
“I’m extremely grateful for the support of Chinese-Americans and their support for our brand.”
The Dram Store had been a darling of Chinese entertainment industry watchers, and was recently awarded a $2.8 million (about $3.5 million) grant from the Chinese government to create and develop programs and products for Chinese audiences.
But its popularity among Chinese audiences has taken a hit.
According to a January study from the National Bureau of Statistics, Chinese viewers in 2017 watched only one TV show in total, and more than one-third of them said they watched a Chinese drama for the first time.
It was a drop of nearly 20% from 2016.
The Dram shop is now trying to rebrand its products in a way that’s not tied to its trademark, which it acquired in 2013.
The company is selling the rights to the Dram shop logo on the front of its merchandise, and has added the name Dram Shop on its official website.
“We want to bring Dram Shop to the mainstream and bring Dram to the masses,” Li told the Wall St Journal.
“It’s a matter of cultural authenticity.
We’re going to make it available for all.”
The ruling comes after the company appealed a court decision last year that struck down the clause, saying it violates the spirit of fair competition.
The ruling in that case was reversed in October, but the company has appealed to the Supreme Court of China to have the case reheard.
The WSJ reports the ruling by the court is expected to come as early as next week.
DramShop was founded in 2015, but has grown to become one of China’s largest independent entertainment companies.
It has about 5 million members, and its catalog includes about a dozen shows, including shows like “Bamboo Forest,” “The Golden Flower,” and “Kiss Me.”
It was bought by a Chinese conglomerate in 2013, but it’s been operating as a standalone entity since then.
The case is expected by the Supreme Courts to be heard this week.