History of Yunnan Baiyao

Yunnan Baiyao was developed by a Chinese man named Qu Huanzhang from Jiangchuan County in Yunnan Province. He had set out to explore the entire region and taste its hundreds of herbs. In 1902, he formulated “Qu Huanzhang Panacea” which became Yunnan Baiyao (“White medicine from Yunnan”) In the Battle of Taierzhuang of 1938 (between Chinese and Japanese forces), Mr. Qu Huanzhang donated more than 30,000 bottles of Yunnan Baiyao to the Chinese National Revolutionary Army, supposedly saving the lives of many soldiers.

As an indication of its value, it is noted that during the 1940s, army commander Wu Xuexian was seriously injured in his right leg. The French hospital in Kunming (capital of Yunnan) recommended amputation to save Wu’s life. Wu turned to Qu for help, and to everyone’s surprise, recovered without the need for an amputation. Yunnan Baiyao gained the reputation as a miracle remedy. After the death of Qu, his wife, Liao Lanying, donated the secret prescription to the government.

In 1935, pharmacist Qu Huanzhang registered a trademark using his own image. This was Yunnan Baiyao’s first attempt at intellectual property (IP) protection. Qu’s wife Liao Lanying donated the Yunnan Baiyao recipe in 1956 to the Chinese government. Large-scale production of Yunnan Baiyao began. The Yunnan Baiyao Factory was established in 1971, but the company did not focus on IP protection until the late-1990s, when counterfeit products began affecting the company’s business. During this period it registered a series of similar trademarks, including “Yunfeng” and “Yunnan Baiyao.” In 2004, the brand was valued at 2.18 billion yuan (US$269 million), ranking 263rd in the World Economic Forum and the World Brand Lab’s list of the top 500 Chinese brands.


In the years prior to 2005, the company spent nearly 1 million yuan (US$123,300) on patent registration, industrialization of patent products and technological innovation. The company applied for three invention patents in 2002. The total number of patents reached 14 in 2004. As of October 2005, the company has applied for 36 invention patents and 40 design patents.