China fines 5 fake Disney hotels for trademark infringement: Xinhua

Rice plants in the shape of Mickey Mouse on a paddy field to celebrate the Shanghai Disney resort, which will open in 2016.
Rice plants in the shape of Mickey Mouse on a paddy field to celebrate the Shanghai Disney resort, which will open in 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - China has fined five knock-off Disney hotels for infringing on the iconic United States entertainment company's trademarks, state-run Xinhua news agency said on Wednesday (Nov 25), in the run-up to the opening of a Disney theme park in Shanghai.

The news comes less than a month after the Chinese authorities announced that they would give unprecedented special trademark protection to Disney in a year-long campaign around the park's opening.

The Shanghai Municipal Administration for Industry and Commerce (AIC), a business regulator, found that the hotels were all owned by the Shenzhen Vienna Hotels Group and had used the"Disney" trademark on their signs and websites without authorisation, Xinhua said.

The hotels were located in Shanghai's Pudong district, where the theme park is due to open next year.

Several calls to the Shenzhen Vienna Hotels Group for a comment were unsuccessful.

"Hoping to cash in on the resort and attract customers, (the hotels) not only infringed trademark rights but are also suspected of unfair competition," the report quoted the AIC as saying.

The hotels were fined a combined 100,000 yuan (S$22,000), it said.

Mr Lin Haihan, director of the Shanghai AIC's trademark office, said the administration was inspecting other hotels for possible infringements, according to Xinhua.

China has struggled for years to shake off a reputation for being a source of, and a market for, fakes, from replica handbags to knock-off cars.

Disney, which is developing the US$5.5 billion (S$7.8 billion) theme park with China's state-owned Shanghai Shendi Group, will be hoping it can tap into growth in the world's second-largest economy despite the country's economic slowdown.

Disney earlier this year delayed the opening of the Shanghai Disneyland resort until the first half of 2016 from a previously scheduled start at the end of 2015.