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Silk Street Market Crackdown Prompts Protests

Issued: March 01 2009
When vendors at Beijing’s notorious Silk Market were shut down over their sales of counterfeit goods, nobody expected their response to be quite so furious.

“We expected trouble,” Zhao Tianying, a legal consultant with Beijing-based IntellecPro, told the New York Times, “but we never imagined this.” Dozens of vendors have staged weekly protests against IntellecPro since the crackdown began. The law firm represents five foreign luxury-brand manufacturers that have sued the market for trademark violations.

Burberry, Gucci, Chanel, Louis Vuitton and Prada first sued the Beijing Silk Street Company, and its vendors, for trademark violations four years ago. Thanks to a court-mediated agreement between the manufacturer’s and the market, market managers have shut down six to eight vendors at a time for a period of up to a week.

The market’s general manager, George Wang, told the newspaper that the manufacturers have threatened to resume lawsuits against the market if the counterfeit sales were not curtailed within six months.

After the shutdown, dozens of vendors occupied IntellecPro’s offices, forcing the firm to hire security guards and have their lunch ordered in, according to the New York Times story.

“The five brands are saying, ‘You are not doing a good enough job in protecting our intellectual property rights,’” market manager Wang told the newspaper. “And the vendors are saying, ‘You are going overboard in protecting intellectual property rights.’ But hey, what can we do? We would rather be known in the world as going overboard than for not.”

 

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