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Judge Rules for Starbucks in Copyright Violation Case
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A local company has been ordered to stop infringing on the copyright of the US-based Starbucks Corporation and to pay compensation of 500,000 yuan (US$62,500) to the US company.


Shanghai Xingbake Coffee Co Ltd registered the Chinese name in the country before Starbucks arrived in the Shanghai market. Starbucks translates "Xingbake" in Chinese.


The ruling in the two-year-old case was issued on Saturday by the Shanghai No 2 Intermediate People's Court.


Lu Guoqiang, chief justice in the case, said Starbucks in both English and Chinese and its logo designs are deemed famous trademarks in Shanghai, thanks to their widespread use, publicity and reputation.


He said such copyrights enjoy special protection.


The Seattle-based Starbucks Corporation set up the first coffee house in Seattle in 1971.


It entered the Taiwanese market in 1998 and gave authority to Uni-President Group, a local firm, to manage its coffee houses in Taiwan and the Chinese mainland.


The multinational registered the Chinese translation of Starbucks, "Xingbake," in China the same year.


Starbucks Corporation entered the Shanghai market by asking Uni-President Group to found a Starbucks Coffee Company which now has 38 coffee shops in Shanghai.


Shanghai Xingbake registered its company name in Chinese in Shanghai on November 20, 1999 after Starbucks had registered its trademark but before it had registered the joint venture in March 2000.


The Shanghai company began setting up its coffee houses in 2003.


One of the shops of the local company in the city's downtown Nanjing Road has a design similar to that of Starbucks: a round logo with green characters against white background Chinese characters reading "Xing Ba Ke" on the top and Cafe at the bottom.


The Starbucks logo has white characters against a green background.


In December 2003, Starbucks Corporation sued the Shanghai retailer, claiming copyright infringement.


The court ruled that Shanghai Xingbake Coffee Co Ltd constituted illegitimate competition by using the Chinese translation of Starbucks in its company name and the translation and a similar design motif for its coffee houses.


Lu reminded companies intending to take advantage of famous copyrights that all market players should observe business ethics.


Starbucks Corporation is the world's largest coffee retailer with more than 6,500 coffee houses worldwide.


The company has established about 300 outlets in Chinese mainland, Taiwan and Hong Kong.


(China Daily January 2, 2006)



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