Hello Kitty enters Silk Street

Updated: 2012-01-05 08:04

By Wang Huazhong (China Daily)

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Hello Kitty enters Silk Street

An 8-year-old girl and her family shop at a brand-authorized retail vendor stall in Beijing's Silk Street on Wednesday. [Wang Jing / China Daily]

BEIJING - On Wednesday one more international brand has authorized a vendor at Beijing's Silk Street - the haunt of foreigners looking for branded goods, mostly reputed to be fake.

Hello Kitty, a well-recognized brand bearing the trademark of an innocent, cute cat, is the latest entrant.

The move is the latest bid to clean up the image of the market, commonly known as a paradise for selling counterfeits.

The management of the market said it launched a campaign to crack down on sales of fake and unauthorized products since October 2010.

More than 20 batches of products suspected of intellectual property rights infringement were kicked out and five stores asked to close down.

"Vendors are, gradually, becoming aware of protecting intellectual property rights (IPR)," said Hu Wenli, general manager of Beijing Silk Street Company that administers the market near the embassy area in Chaoyang district.

"We have basically eradicated open sales of products that infringe copyrights," she said, adding that the market was encouraging vendors to register their own brands or obtain authorization as with the Hello Kitty store.

Zhang Guidong, who was authorized to sell Hello Kitty at the market, said he benefited from the crackdown on sale of counterfeits.

"When market regulators confiscated my counterfeit goods worth thousands of dollars in 2005, I felt devastated," said the farmer-turned vendor, from East China's Anhui province. "But now I don't have worries as I sell only genuine goods."

Zhang was given an authorization plate and a certificate.

But Hu said it would take a while before IPR infringement might be completely eradicated.

An Qi, a regional manager representing Hello Kitty, said: "We hesitated for months before authorizing a seller in Silk Street, since even genuine products might be mistaken as fake here."

"But we are attracted by the fame of Silk Street. It is widely known not only in Beijing but also abroad," she said. "The authorization helps us enter Silk Street and support the market's transformation."

Katrien Dirix, a tourist from Belgium, said she was looking for cheap prices rather than fake branded products in the market.

"I like interacting with vendors here when I'm bargaining. I'm bad at bargaining, but it's a lot of fun."