HONG KONG (AFP) - Luxury fashion brand Gucci has warned Hong Kong shops selling paper handbags and other goods as offerings for the dead not to market items resembling their products.
It is a tradition for Hong Kong families to purchase and burn paper replicas of everything their deceased loved ones could ever want in the afterlife.
As such the city is bustling with specialty stores stocking everything from paper false teeth, iPads and shirts, to chauffeur-driven cars, macaroons, mansions and wads of fake cash.
But it was the replica bags and other products bearing Gucci-like logos and designs that caught the eye of the luxury goods maker.
"In this instance, we fully respect the funeral context and we trust that the store owners did not have the intention to infringe Gucci's trademark," the company said in a statement emailed to AFP on Friday (April 29).
"Thus a letter was sent on an informational basis to let these stores know about the products they were carrying, and by asking them to stop selling those items," the statement said, adding that there was no suggestion of legal action or compensation.
"Gucci needs to protect its intellectual property, and does this across industries globally." Gucci is thought to be among the most desired brands in China in part due to its iconic logo which conveys status.
Since its arrival in Hong Kong in 1974 it has opened 11 stores including its flagship store in the financial district of Central.
Owners of the paper replica shops seemed unfazed by the warning.
"These items are not used by living people, it's just to commemorate ancestors and for them to use," To Chin-sung, a 65-year-old manager of a shop crammed with paper offerings, told AFP.
"It's not an exact copy, they just think it looks very similar," he said.
To, who also sells paper bags resembling those from Gucci said he had not received the letter.
"If they do send us a letter, we'll respond jokingly by saying perhaps we can help send the letter to the nether world, and see how it's received there." Thousands in the city trek up to hillside cemeteries twice a year to burn the offerings for their ancestors and to sweep their graves in a ritual that gives them peace of mind.