Beijing's Silk Street market, a bustling bazaar of broken-English bargaining and brand-name knock-offs, is in hot legal water.
Five world famous brands, Gucci, Chanel, Burberry, Prada and Louis Vuitton, are jointly suing the market operator, Beijing Xiushui Haosen Clothing Market Company, and five stalls, for selling fake products. They are claiming 2.5 million yuan (US$310,000) in compensation.
"Though the market operator had promised to weed out counterfeit goods in the market, it failed to keep these knock-offs out," said the plaintiff's lawyer Gao Hualin. "The company takes no measures to fight against counterfeiting, and facilitates stalls in selling fake brands."
Six big boxes, with hundreds of items of bags and garments bearing well-known logos were brought to court as proof. It had been notarized that these items were from stalls in the Silk Street market.
The company pleaded not guilty, claiming they had tried their best to forbid the sale of fake products in the market, and they had terminated the contracts of the five stalls being sued.
The five stalls questioned the validity of the notarial certificate, saying it did not prove the fake products shown in court were from their booths, and the amount of compensation sought was beyond what they could afford.
No judgment has been made at the Beijing No 2 Intermediate People's Court. The first hearing was held on Tuesday.
Established in 1985 near foreign embassies and luxury hotels, the Silk Street market, also known as Xiushui market, is described by many foreigners as the third best-known tourist destination in the national capital after the Palace Museum, also known as the Forbidden City, and the Great Wall.
(China Daily November 3, 2005)