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Thu, Jan 19, 2006 - Page 12 News List

Shanghai coffee firm appeals verdict in Starbucks case

AP , SHANGHAI

A Chinese company locked in a trademark dispute with Starbucks has appealed a court order to change its name for sounding too similar to that of the US coffee giant, a newspaper report said yesterday.

Shanghai's No. 2 Intermediate People's Court ruled earlier this month that Shanghai Xingbake Cafe Corp Ltd engaged in "illegitimate competition" by using Starbucks' Chinese name and imitating the design of its coffee houses.

Xing means star, and bake, pronounced "bah kuh," sounds like bucks. Shanghai Xingbake was also ordered to pay Seattle-based Starbucks Corp 500,000 yuan (US$62,000) in damages.

The Shanghai Daily said Xingbake's attorney Jiang Xian claimed in the appeal that the company successfully registered the name in October 1999, two months before the US company and well before Starbucks had fully established its brand in China.

The conflict in China's booming market for gourmet coffee has been among the most high-profile cases in the country's nascent struggle to mediate trademark disputes. Foreign companies have complained for years that the Chinese government is failing to stamp out piracy of copyrighted or trademarked goods such as movies or designer clothes.

A spokesman for Xingbake was not immediately available and the company's lawyer, Jiang, was in a meeting and could not be reached.

Starbucks opened its first cafe in China in 1999 and has since spread to almost every major city, helping establish a thriving new business of selling coffee to well paid customers for up to US$6 for a cup of coffee -- more than the average Chinese worker makes in a day.

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