Counterfeit Italian goods spark rage in China

Updated: 2012-03-24 17:29


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BEIJING - Chinese consumers are up in arms over "Italian" luxury goods that were recently revealed to have been manufactured in China.

The Beijing office of the Intellectual Property Rights Department of the Italian Trade Commission (ITC) recently submitted a list of 30 brands that are advertised as having Italian origin to China's State Intellectual Property Office.

The products specified include bags, leather goods and bedding, some of which are sold for higher prices than domestic products or even genuine imported goods. Italian addresses and phone numbers printed on the products' packaging were found to be falsified.

"These pseudo-Italian brands lure customers by claiming to originate from Italy," said Giovanni de Sanctis, an ITC official.

Some of the brands feature the tricolor Italian flag or fabricated stories about their Italian origin on their packaging, he said.

"Such false adverting does not directly harm the image and interests of Italian enterprises, but does constitute unfair competition for enterprises in both nations," he said.

De Sanctis said that if the products are poorly produced, they could harm the image of Italian companies and their Chinese peers.

ITC established a Beijing office for its Intellectual Property Rights Department in July 2010 for the express purpose of protecting the image and interests of genuine Italian brands. The office has ferreted out 60 false Italian brands on the Chinese market thus far, although it has only reported three cases to intellectual property authorities.

One company that came up on the office's radar was Toskany, a company that sells leather goods in China. The company has claimed to have originated in the Italian city of Tuscany in 1928 and established shops in over ten countries and regions.

However, an Italian investigation revealed that the company was never registered in Italy, and its goods are supplied by a Beijing-based leather manufacturer.

Just weeks ago, US basketball icon Michael Jordan sued Chinese sportswear and shoe manufacturer Qiaodan Sports Company Limited over the "unauthorized use" of his name and identity. "Qiaodan" is a Chinese transliteration of Jordan's name.

The State Administration for Industry and Commerce said its trademark office has rejected two trademark applications from two brands - Nino Ferletti Italy and Bestibelli Milan.

The administration said Italian companies can report incidents of false advertising and intellectual property theft to the administrators of local industry and commerce offices.