Business leaders urged the government to stop selling corporate names on vehicle registration plates, hours before company names such as HSBC, Ferrari and Sony were auctioned yesterday to a restaurateur for about HK$2 million. In a letter to the Commissioner for Transport, the Hong Kong Chamber of Commerce has urged the government to end a practice which it believes infringes companies' rights to their trademarks. But the government insists the practice is legal, and that it has been approved by its own legal advisers. Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury Frederick Ma Si-hang said five enterprises had expressed concerns over the issue, but he argued that the sale had been backed by legal opinion from the Department of Justice and he was not worried that the practice infringed the companies' copyright. 'We had already consulted legal opinion when we formulated the scheme. We are confident that the personalised vehicle registration scheme can stand up to [legal] challenges,' Mr Ma said. He said Alan Wong Chi-kong, the Commissioner for Transport, had the final power to recall any registration plates if these were considered inappropriate. The companies' concerns were raised by the chamber in a letter on Friday, ahead of yesterday's Transport Department auction, in which a restaurateur who identified himself only as Mr Yeung spent about HK$2 million on personalised vehicle registration plates such as 'FERRAR1', 'HSBC' and 'SONY'. In its letter, the chamber said it was worried that, besides infringing copyright, the practice breached the government's own policy of protecting intellectual property rights. If personalised plates were used for commercial purposes, companies could incur substantial damages and might take legal action for compensation, the chamber said. The 'FERRAR1' plate drew yesterday's highest bid - HK$700,000. 'HSBC' ranked second, at HK$500,000. Many other well-known 'brands' also fell into the hands of private collectors. Mr Yeung pocketed 'FERRAR1', 'HSBC' and 'SONY'. An anonymous bidder sitting alongside Mr Yeung paid HK$30,000 for another famous car brand, 'JAGUAR'. Mr Yeung, the boss of the Golden Delight Seafood Restaurant at the Regal Kowloon Hotel, bought 'TVB' and 'PORSCHE' last month. 'I am delighted with the bids. I will rotate these plates on my three cars, like people changing clothes.' A total of 204 registration plates were sold yesterday, raising HK$9.3 million for charity.