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Nike sues man selling fake shoes
By Cao Li (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-02-15 06:33

SHANGHAI: A lawsuit by Nike against a former professional soccer player who sold counterfeit trainers on the Internet got under way yesterday at Shanghai No 1 Intermediate People's Court.

Zhuang Zhihao purchased hundreds of fake Nike and Adidas footwear from two men from Fujian Province and sold them at his online shop, Shiji Xiewang (Shoe King of the Century), at eBay.com.cn from September 2004 to January 2005.

During the period he sold 1,092 pairs of fake trainers at an average price of 90 yuan (US$11). He was arrested in early 2005 together with the two Fujian natives and two other illegal traders. They have been previously sentenced in criminal courts.

After Zhuang was given one year's probation, Nike International Ltd began legal proceedings. They are demanding compensation of 200,000 yuan (US$24,700) from him, which includes costs on lawyers, investigations and other losses.

Attorney Zhou Shixing, representing Nike, said that the actual deficit was much beyond the figure considering the loss of potential sales of hundreds of customers who bought the fake footwear. Zhou admitted that Nike is losing a lot to the large counterfeit product traders, many of whom are conducting business in shops or markets, as well as on the Internet.

Lin Guoxiu, one of the Fujian natives who sold the trainers to Zhuang, purchased more than 30,000 fake Adidas and Nike products from his hometown, and a large number of them were sold online. Lin and Zhuang were ordered to pay 300,000 yuan (US$37,000) and 15,000 yuan (US$1,850) respectively to Adidas for selling fake trainers by Shanghai Huangpu District People's Court last month.

Four former customers of Zhuang gave affidavits during yesterday's latest hearing. Zhang Qing, 37, purchased three pairs of Nike trainers from Zhuang and said he introduced other customers too.

Liu Wei, of eBay China, admitted that it was difficult to screen fake products as 1 million products were sold online every day.

She added that adverts would be removed, however, once a complaint could be verified.

A search by China Daily on eBay.com.cn found 4,752 pairs of Nike trainers and 3,878 pairs of Adidas footwear, most of which are less than 200 yuan (US$25).

But the prices for Nike sports shoes in a shop in Pacific Mall along downtown Huaihai Road range from 500-1,000 yuan (US$62-123).

Liu said lawsuits had been launched against them several times, but that courts had never supported the claims.

"The website simply provides a platform for trading and never gets involved in the actual purchasing," she said.

A document from the country's Supreme Court requires online retail operators to kick out advertizers who are proved to be selling fake products. But there has not been any rule stipulating an examination of the products.

(China Daily 02/15/2006 page2)

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