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Starbucks China Copycat Punished
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A Shanghai coffee company has been fined 500,000 yuan (US$64,000) for infringing on the trademark of the United States-based Starbucks coffeehouse chain.

The Shanghai Municipal Higher People's Court further ordered the Shanghai Xingbake Cafe to change its name and apologize publicly to Starbucks through a local newspaper, the Xinmin Evening News.

In 2003, the Starbucks Corporation and President Starbucks Coffee Company, a franchised Shanghai Starbucks operator, filed a lawsuit against the Shanghai Xingbake Cafe and its subsidiary on the Nanjing Road, claiming they had violated the rule of fair competition and infringed upon the US Starbucks trademark by using Xingbake and "starbuck" in their company name and business activities.

Shanghai Xingbake and its Nanjing Road branch also used a green logo similar to that of Starbucks on its menus, cafe windows, receipts and business cards. It has a picture of coffee cup in the circle, instead of a mermaid.

The court ruled that Shanghai Xinbake, established in 2000, competed in an illegal manner by using the name Xingbake, the very name Starbucks is using in China. The Chinese character "Xing" means "star", and the characters "ba" and "ke" onomatopoetically resemble like "bucks".

The court ruled that Shanghai Xingbake intentionally used Xingbake in its name to mislead the public and thus infringe the trademark of US Starbucks.

Starbucks, the world's biggest coffee chain operator, registered its trademark Starbucks, Xingbake, the Chinese translation for Starbucks, as well as its logo, a green mermaid in a circle, in 1996 and 1999. Starbucks had over 200 outlets across 21 Chinese mainland cities by Oct. 1 last year, the first opening in 1999.

(Xinhua News Agency January 5, 2007)

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