Monday, March 14, 2011
Beijing's Silk Market
IP Komodo’s friend Tim Smith of Rouse was curious to know what was happening at the famous Beijing Silk Market. He asked his intern Dominic to take a look and here is what they found. Large public notices appear around the market issued by the Beijing Administration for Industry and Commerce, concerning counterfeit goods. The notices (in Chinese only) state that any merchants in Silk Street caught selling any items bearing any of a finite list of famous foreign brands (Prada, Chanel, Burberry, Givenchy, Boss, Hermes, Miu Miu, North Face etc.) would be subject to administrative penalties, as all such articles would be counterfeit. Further, the management of the Silk Street shopping plaza would, if it was shown to have knowingly permitted the sale of any such goods, be subject to administrative measures and criminal punishment. These are all brands which we believe were involved in civil litigation against the Silk Market management.
There are also large red banners in Chinese and English reading "protect intellectual property rights - be law-abiding vendors" and "embrace national brand - respect intellectual property right". There were red sign boards displayed above the aisles every few metres or so in English advising customers that if they had any concerns with the merchandise they had purchased they could contact the customer service desk, call a telephone hotline or send the details of their complaint to a dedicated email address.
But a look around revealed many articles from jackets and shirts to belts and watches bearing brands such as D&G, Giorgio Armani, Adidas, Nike, Ralph Lauren and Abercrombie, all on unabashed display. Few of the brands listed in the notice, however, were seen. Coincidentally these all appear to be companies which were plaintiffs in civil court actions against the market in recent years. The result of the cases is that those brands who went to court appear to have succeeded in proving secondary liability against the landlord, so he ensures their products are not sold there. But those who have not litigated do not appear to be in that position. Further pending litigation is seeking to widen the landlord's liability further.
Guest post by IP Komodo Dragon