The North Face, a US-based outdoor apparel maker, has won a trademark infringement lawsuit against the owner of Beijing's Silk Market Plaza, a popular tourist market.
The Beijing Xiushui Clothing Company was ordered "to stop infringement practices, post a statement in the market to mitigate influences, and pay 40,000 yuan (US$5,300) in damages and lawsuit fees to the North Face", according to a ruling from the Beijing No.2 Intermediate People's Court.
The North Face claimed it representatives found a large quantity of goods with fake "The North Face" trademarks being sold by tenants of the market in November last year. It later took the market owner to court, and demanded a hefty compensation of 500,000 yuan.
The market-owner, however, argued that most of the fake brand clothing was specifically ordered by individual customers, and not for general sale. It said the "fakes-on-order" practice was very difficult to detect.
The company claimed it had strengthened management, and fulfilled its duty as a market supervisor.
The court ruling said evidence showed that some "The North Face" counterfeits were indeed publicly presented and sold to all buyers, and the Xiushui company failed to check the source of the goods or whether the tenants were authorized.
"The company failed to take its responsibilities as a market manager, and facilitated the tenants' infringement practices," it said.
The Silk Street market, or Xiushui market in Chaoyang District, has been popular with overseas tourists and expatriates who have flocked there for knock-offs since 1985. In March 2005, the outdoor market moved to a multi-storey building next to the Xiushui Street.
The controversial market is bogged down in another lawsuit filed in July by French brand Lacoste. A final verdict has not been issued.
Last September, five global name brands -- Burberry, Chanel, Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Prada -- won 100,000 yuan in compensation from a joint lawsuit against the Xiushui company and five tenants.
It was the first case in China where a market manager was found culpable. It has encouraged more foreign firms to resort to Chinese courts to seek compensation from local retail market owners for allowing the sale of fake brand goods on their premises.
The North Face, a subsidiary of VE Corp., is based in San Leandro California.
(Xinhua News Agency October 30, 2007)