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Wed, Sep 07, 2005 - Page 12 News List

China tries UK man, 5 locals for selling brand-name fakes

AP , SHANGHAI

A British citizen has gone on trial alongside five Chinese accomplices accused of producing and selling counterfeit name-brand shampoos and other toiletries, a Shanghai court official and newspapers reported yesterday.

Suraj Jagtiani, whose address wasn't given, went on trial on Monday at the Shanghai No. 1 Intermediate People's Court, a court official said.

No date for sentencing has been set and no details of the case could be released, the official said, who refused to give his name as is customary with Chinese judicial and law enforcement officials. Such trials usually last just one day.

However, the Shanghai Daily said Jagtiani and the others produced more than 2 million yuan (US$246,000) worth of bogus goods in a year.

The group packaged and sold the phony products as Johnson & Johnson's Baby Oil, German company Beiersdorf AG's Nivea skin cream, and Procter & Gamble Co's Head and Shoulders shampoo, the paper said.

It wasn't known how or when the gang was caught or what punishments they might receive.

Prosecutors allege Jagtiani met co-defendants Li Xuyao and Yao Fei last year at a trade show in southern China's Guangdong Province, the Shanghai Daily said.

Jagtiani, who the paper said ran a Hong Kong-based trading company, provided sample products and funds to the couple, who rented workshops and hired workers in Shanghai's Pudong district. The products were then shipped to overseas distributors, including in the US, the UK and the Netherlands, the paper said.

The Shanghai Daily quoted Jagtiani as saying he originally didn't realize the products he was selling were fake. When he found out and informed his overseas clients, they told him they had no problem accepting the counterfeits, the report said.

The case is the second in Shanghai in a matter of months involving foreigners exploiting China's lax enforcement of intellectual property protections.

In April, the Shanghai court sentenced an American man to two-and-a-half years in prison for selling pirated DVDs on the Internet in a rare success for joint US-China efforts to enforce intellectual property laws.

While most fakes in China involve consumer items such as DVDs, watches, clothing and handbags, the case points to a more serious problem involving sensitive and potentially harmful products.

Scores of infants have been sickened and many killed by bogus baby formula that contained little or no nutritional value. Fake medicine is a growing problem in the vast and largely poor countryside.

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