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Bun shop owners locked in legal battle
By Cao Li (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-11-18 01:31

A tasty steamed bun is at the centre of a brand lawsuit in Shanghai.

A Shanghai company, the Shanghai Kebi Food Company, has been using his Babi steamed buns to attract franchisers, said Liu Huiping, general manager of Shanghai Babi Food and Drinks Administration.

"Which is totally cheating," said Liu.

Kebi, founded in July, did not have a single franchise before September, Liu said.

But Kebi claimed it already owned more than 10 franchised outlets by the time it started attracting business during the summer, said a witness surnamed Yuan.

Kebi, or its franchisees, has opened 14 Babi steamed bun shops since September.

Two people who almost became Kebi franchisees said the company charged 15,000 yuan (US$1,800) for each operation.

"I was taken to some of Kebi's Babi steamed bun outlets by staff from Kebi to prove how good the business could be and see the long queues outside the shop," said Yuan.

Yuan almost paid the entrance fee, "But I fortunately found out before it was too late that Liu Huiping is the true owner of these outlets."

Kebi however saw a different side.

"Liu did not apply for the trademark until July and Kebi opened its first Babi steamed bun shop in March," said Wu Zhiqiang, Kebi's lawyer.

"And as Liu does not have the trademark, he can not charge Kebi for trademark violation."

Liu said he has been in business for years.

"I opened my first steamed bun shop in 2001, which became popular soon. In 2003, I changed the shop's name to Babi and then founded the company in April." said Liu

"As Babi has become a name brand, Kebi's behaviour has caused wide confusion and led to unfair competition," said Chen Jun, Liu's lawyer.

Liu demanded Kebi stop using the brand, Babi, and pay 216,000 yuan (US$26,080) in compensation.

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