Luxury brands ‘bullying’ small businesses

PUBLISHED : Friday, 08 March, 2013, 11:36am
UPDATED : Saturday, 09 March, 2013, 1:46am

Luxury brands makers were increasingly targeting smaller businesses – rather than larger manufacturers – to seek compensation for brand infringements, lawmaker Albert Ho Chun-yan said on Friday.

In a recent case, a hair salon owner was sued by Louis Vuitton after inspectors visited the salon and found that some of the salon's chairs were covered with a pattern very similar to Louis Vuitton’s.

Two other shop owners described a similar situation on local radio on Friday. They said they were both sued for selling handbags with buckles similar to those used on a brand of luxury handbags.

All three owners said they had made no infringements and would not pay compensation. “It’s very subjective as to whether the designs are similar,” said Ho, who is also a lawyer representing small businesses.

“Bullying” by big brand makers was “outrageous”, he told local radio.

Ho explained that lawyers and investigation teams recruited by the famous brands usually only made money when taking legal action. This led to unfair cases. He noted that around 30 years ago, manufacturers were usually targeted for brand infringements – not small businesses.

Now lawyers took action against smaller shops, which could not cope with expensive lawsuits, Ho explained.