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LV wins counterfeit, patent dispute cases in China
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A court in southern Guangdong Province has held a five-star hotel responsible for leasing space to a seller of knock-off Louis Vuitton (LV) products.

The Intermediate People's Court in Dongguan City ordered the hotel to pay 100,000 yuan (13,888 U.S. dollars) in combined compensation with the shop manager to the French luxury producer. The court also ordered the shop and the hotel to stop selling the products and destroy any remaining counterfeit items.

The court documents didn't name the hotel but did state that the hotel collected a monthly rental of 20,000 yuan from leasing the shop, where sales people wore hotel uniforms.

"There were no signboards or any notices in the shop for customers to be able to identify that its management was independent from the hotel," the court ruled.

France Louis Vuitton Ltd. had demanded compensation of 500,000 yuan from the hotel and a public apology through the media. The court declined, saying that the hotel hadn't caused widespread market harm to LV.

The French firm has also won another suit, this one against a Chinese handbag producer in Beijing for copying its trademark design, said sources with the No. 1 Intermediate People's Court in Beijing on Tuesday.

The handbag company obtained a Chinese patent in October 2003 for a handbag design, which LV said was too similar to its trademark design. LV took the company to court in April 2007.

"Once products with the company's patented design are put on the market, ordinary consumers would be confused and mix up the products with those of LV," said the luxury seller, which only sells products from its boutiques.

The court said though it had no jurisdiction over the validity of the patent of the Chinese firm, it did have the right to order the firm to stop using the patented design because it was being disputed.

(Xinhua News Agency March 19, 2008)

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