Gucci has announced its intention to hunt down knockoffs in China, even right to the grave.
Last week, the luxury company sent a letter to six shops in Hong Kong, urging them to stop selling paper products with the Gucci logo, which are meant to be burned as offerings to deceased loved ones.
A company spokesperson clarified to the BBC that the letter was merely meant to inform shopowners that they were infringing on Gucci’s trademark, not threatening any kind of legal action. The company also said that it understands the funeral context and doesn’t believe that sellers meant to infringe.
To honor deceased ancestors and provide them with everything they need in the afterlife and more, family members in China often burn paper goods modeled to look like money or luxury items. The practice is especially popular on the annual Tomb Sweeping Day, when fake solar panels, maotai and mahjong tables can all be found in abundance. Who says you can’t take it with you?
While the afterlife may be a new arena, Gucci has been aggressively attempting to crack down on knockoffs in the Chinese market for years. Last year, its parent company, Paris-based Kering SA, filed a law suit against Alibaba, accusing China’s largest online commerce company of turning a blind eye to sellers hawking fake merchandise. Jack Ma responded that he’d rather lose the money than settle.
However, this latest crackdown also presents some significant challenges:
“I am wondering how to serve a writ on the recipients of these gifts,”Douglas Clark, barrister at Hong Kong’ Gilt Chambers and intellectual property expert, told China Real Time. “I guess you would have to burn it as an offering too.”
[Images via CCTV]