For years, stores in China have been selling fake Gucci goods that are intended to be burned and offered to the dead. And Gucci is now trying to put an end to it.
According to QZ, the Italian fashion house has sent a warning to shopkeepers who sell paper effigies that look like its products, which include everything from handbags to shoes. Though the paper knockoffs are sold year-round, they’re most popular during the Qingming "tomb-sweeping" festival that takes place in early April. It’s a time when the Chinese honor the deceased, and it involves the burning paper replicas so they can be delivered to those in the afterlife. Paper iPhones, paper bottles of liquor, paper cars, and paper luxury bags are some of the most common.
“We want to prevent the public thinking mistakenly that Gucci is selling funeral products,” Gucci’s parent company, Kering, said in a statement to the Financial Times. “As a brand we have to defend our intellectual property.”
As of now, Gucci Hong Kong has not taken any legal action against the shopkeepers; it’s only sent out letters asking the stores to stop selling paper fakes.
UPDATED 5/6/16: Following backlash over the warnings, Kering has issued an apology. It stated that the company and Gucci “would like to reiterate their utmost respect with regards to the funeral context. We regret any misunderstandings that may have been caused and sincerely apologize to anyone we may have offended through our action.”
According to WWD, the letters were sent as part of a global intellectual property protection effort and they will not pursue and legal action or compensation from the store owners, since they "trust that the funeral store owners did not have the intention to infringe Gucci’s trademark."