Lacoste sues Chinese firms
French sportswear maker Lacoste has sued three Chinese companies for producing and selling clothes with crocodile logos that allegedly infringe on its trademark, state media reported yesterday. Lacoste SA sued a manufacturer, a retailer and a department store on Monday in the Beijing No. 1 Intermediate Court and demanded 1 million yuan (US$123,000) in compensation, the China Daily newspaper said. The lawsuit alleges that shirts illegally bearing the Lacoste crocodile logo manufactured by Guangzhou Province's Tai'e Garment Company were sold by the Nianniangao Company in Beijing, the paper said. The Beijing Chengxiang Department store is also named in the suit for renting Nianniangao store space to sell the shirts, it said.
■ Real estate
Japanese property prices up
Japanese land prices rose for the first time in 14 years as the property market springs back to life after a long slump since the "economic bubble" burst in the early 1990s, the government said yesterday. The average price of land along side major roads rose 0.9 percent to ¥114,000 (US$994) per square meter as of Jan. 1 from a year earlier, the National Tax Agency reported. The data marked another milestone for the world's second largest economy which has been plagued by falling consumer prices and property values for over a decade, trapping the economy in a long period of stagnation. The land prices of Japan's three largest city areas in Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya increased by 3.5 percent, 0.7 percent and 2.1 percent respectively.
US market to get `Chocolate'
A combination mobile telephone and MP3 digital music player made by South Korean LG Electronics was introduced to the US market on Monday by Verizon Wireless to challenge Apple's popular iPods. The LG "Chocolate" handheld had a color to match its name and a sleek design similar to that of the iPod, complete with circular navigation ring. The LG handhelds were to be on US store shelves by Aug. 7, Verizon said. Verizon sweetened the offering by eliminating the monthly subscription plan for its VCAST online music shop, which claimed to have a catalogue of 1.3 million songs. VCAST users will be able to pay per song or album the same way Silicon Valley's Apple Computer charges for digital music downloads from its iTunes store on the Internet, according to Verizon, which is based in New York City.
Japan Post unveils plan
Japan Postal Corp has unveiled a 10-year privatization roadmap that will create the world's biggest bank, officials said. Privatizing Japan's sprawling postal service, which also runs banking and insurance services, has been a centerpiece of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's reform program. Japan Post President Yoshifumi Nishikawa submitted the plan on Monday to Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Heizo Takenaka, according to spokesman Hiroshi Funayama. Under the plan, Japan Post will be split into four entities; banking, insurance, mail delivery and counter-service management. The new postal savings bank, tentatively named Yucho (postal savings) Bank, will have ¥226.99 trillion (US$1.98 trillion) in assets, Japan Post said on its Web site. That makes Yucho the biggest bank in the world by assets.