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Court punishes counterfeit chocolate producers

Updated : 2017-02-09
(chinadaily.com.cn)

Eight people have been sentenced to between one and five years in prison and face a total of 6.21 million yuan ($901,704) in penalties for producing and selling fake branded chocolate.

Xinwu District People's Court in Wuxi, Jiangsu province in East China, handed down the ruling in mid-January, having heard the trademark case three times.

The court decision reflects equal protection for trademark owners, Jiang Shaowen, vice-president of the court, told Chinese media.

"Trademark protection shows respect for a company's branding efforts and helps to maintain a fair environment for market competition," Jiang said.

The investigation into the case was listed among other major legal actions overseen by the Ministry of Public Security during its Sharp Sword crackdown campaign in 2016. The program targets counterfeits in sectors such as food, medicine, construction materials and products related to agricultural production.

Court punishes counterfeit chocolate producers

Dove chocolate's popularity with Chinese customers makes it a target for counterfeiters in a recent trademark case. Lyu Yan / For China Daily

In this case, the discovery of the illegal action was attributed to a shop owner's business prudence.

Soon after Valentine's Day in 2015, the shop owner, surnamed Ji, who specializes in wedding candy retail trade in Changzhou, a city neighboring Wuxi, received many complaints from his customers that their Dove-branded chocolate bought from his shop tasted strange.

Ji contacted his seller Xu Liujun about his concerns. Xu promised that all the chocolate was authentic and he even gave Ji a telephone number of a so-called licensing agent, who turned out to be Xu's wife, surnamed Li.

"Don't worry, the chocolate may taste different due to the variation in production procedures and storage environments," she said to reassure Ji.

Despite the couple's promises, the shop owner, facing mounting pressure from customers canceling their orders, sent some samples of the purchases from Xu to Dove chocolate manufacturer Mars China. The test results showed they were all fake.

Thus, Mars reported the case to the police in Wuxi in March 2015.

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