Gucci wins trademark case in China sandal scandal
BEIJING (Reuters) - Luxury goods maker Gucci has won a trademark copycat lawsuit against a Chinese shoemaker, putting its foot down in a country where knock-off designer gear is on sale on every street corner, state media said on Tuesday.
It was the second such win chalked up by an upmarket European firm, after Italian confectioner Ferrero won a five-year legal battle against a chocolate counterfeiter last week.
Senda Group Co. Ltd., based in the eastern province of Jiangsu, was ordered to pay Gucci 180,000 yuan ($26,000) in compensation for infringing on the Gucci trademark featuring an interlocking "GG", according to the ruling handed down by the People's Court of Shanghai Pudong District on Monday.
Senda's ladies sandals bearing the logo were sold at Shanghai No. 1 Yaohan Department Store in August 2006, Xinhua news agency said.
"Gucci demanded Senda and the Yaohan department store stop manufacturing and selling the shoes carrying the logo and asked for compensation totaling 610,000 yuan from the two defendants," Xinhua said.
The department store bore no responsibility for damages in the case but should immediately stop selling the sandals, Xinhua said, quoting the ruling.
Ferrero won a five-year battle against a Chinese firm producing fakes of its famous gold-wrapped Ferrero Rocher chocolates in a ruling hailed by upmarket brands, a Hong Kong newspaper reported last week.
China's Supreme People's Court ordered mainland company Montresor to stop making the nutty chocolates and pay "symbolic" damages of 500,000 yuan.
"It is already hard for Italian companies, and foreign ones in general, to get into China, overcome resistance put up against foreign products, build up a commercial network and invest in the country, only to be faced with a strong and invisible enemy such as the counterfeiting industry," the South China Morning Post quoted the Italian company as saying.
Fake and pirated goods ranging from drugs and DVDs and designer clothes and golf clubs are widely on sale in markets across China.
The European Union and United States have maintained pressure on China to combat counterfeits, which U.S. software and entertainment firms say costs them $2.5 billion a year.
Gucci, owned by French retailer PPR, has quadrupled the number of stores it has in China from four at the end of 2004.