CHINA / National

Vuitton wins suit against Beijing store
By Liu Li (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-04-18 06:02

A Beijing court awarded French designer Louis Vuitton 150,000 yuan (US$18,500) in its suit against a department store in the city that was selling fake Vuitton handbags.

The Beijing No 2 Intermediate People's Court ruled that Chaowai Men's Department Store had violated the world-famous Vuitton trademark.

In another development, the Shanghai No 2 Intermediate People's Court will hear today a suit by Vuitton charging that a Shanghai supermarket sold fake handbags.

In yesterday's judgement, Vuitton charged that 22 stalls within the department store sold handbags bearing its trademark without authorization.

The fake handbag was sold at the store for 100 yuan (US$12). The price of a genuine Vuitton handbag in Beijing is at least 5,000 yuan (US$620).

Vuitton claimed one of its employees bought a fake handbag at the store in September last year.

The French company sent a letter to the store, requiring it to stop selling the pirated goods. The store quickly wrote back, saying that it had taken the necessary steps.

But a month later, the plaintiff bought 21 fake handbags at the same store, and an advertisement using the trademark was still on the wall of the store.

Vuitton initially asked for a compensation of 1 million yuan (US$125,000).

However, officials of the store insisted that stalls where the fake handbags were sold were not owned by the store, but the merchants rented space from the store.

"The store has fulfilled its obligations of supervision," the bill of defence said.

Ding Ran, the department store's attorney, refused to comment on the judgment. She also declined to say whether her client would appeal.

In yesterday's ruling, the court said the department store was obliged to stop selling fake goods.

The local market watchdog forbade the store that rented stalls to individuals to sell goods with the illegal trademark six months before the store opened, the judgment said.

"The defendant obviously failed to fulfil its obligations of supervision. The store provided convenience to the pirated goods sellers," the ruling said.

But the court reduced the award in accordance with the plaintiff's losses and the defendant's mistakes, court sources said.

Vuitton won a suit against the Silk Street Market last year for trademark infringement. Last December, the same intermediate court ordered the market which rents stalls, similar to Chaowai to pay 100,000 yuan (US$12,500) to Vuitton and four other international designers.

The Silk Street Market appealed to the Beijing High People's Court. The final judgement there is expected today.

(China Daily 04/18/2006 page2)