A market best known among foreign tourists to Beijing for its cheap clothing has been hauled before the court for trademark infringement.
But it's not the items for sale that are under scrutiny in this case - it is the name of the market itself.
Known as "Silk Street," the Beijing Xiushui Haosen Clothing Market Company, the market operator, and co-defendant Beijing Xinya Shenghong Real Estate Development Company, its real estate developer, deny infringing the rights of Beijing Yelusheng Commerce and Trade Company, the trademark owner.
The plaintiff is claiming 3.5 million yuan (US$423,000) in compensation.
But the defendants claim the name "Silk Street" was around long before the trademark was registered, and that the registration itself was malicious.
The "Silk Street" market was established in 1985 and re-housed in a department store near the original site last year because of safety concerns.
No judgement was made at the Beijing No 2 Intermediate People's Court, which held the first hearing yesterday.
The Trademark Bureau of the State Administration for Industry and Commerce authorized the Yelusheng Company to register its Silk Street trademark in 2002, according to lawyer Wu Xiaodong, representing the plaintiff.
"But the two defendants used the Silk Street logo on the building without permission," he told the court.
"The two defendants also used the logo and characters of Silk Street in advertising a number of times," Wu said.
The lawyer also claimed the reputation of the company had been damaged because the new department store had been caught selling fake brands this year.
The plaintiff also appealed to the court to order the two defendants to stop using their logo and issue a public apology, insisting their branding was illegal.
"The whole process was authorized by the local government," said the defendants' lawyer, Yu Tanzhen.
"The Silk Street trademark was registered for a company providing advice, consultation and other services. To use Silk Street as the name of a building does not violate the trademark at all," he said.
"The plaintiff has nothing to do with the Silk Street market. But it registered the trademark. It is suspected that the registration was malicious," said lawyer Zhang Weifeng.
He also said people believed "Silk Street" was the name of a place and a department store and not a trademark.
(China Daily July 7, 2005)