Image: Gucci

Italian luxury brand Gucci is cracking down on fakes, and its latest targets are arguably controversial: a number of Hong Kong-based funeral shops, which are allegedly selling paper products bearing the house’s interlocking “G” trademark that are customarily burned as offerings for the dead. According to Chinese shopkeepers, they received cease and desist letters from Gucci’s legal team, demanding that they immediately and permanently stop selling the novelty paper offerings in order to avoid legal ramifications. The cease and desist letters also asked the shop owners to provide Gucci with information about their suppliers – a routine inquiry in such letters. 

And the recipients of said cease and desist letters are confused. “I am neither the manufacturer nor the supplier, why are they picking on me?,” one of the shop owners told a local Chinese newspaper. She said that she did not recognize that her products resembled Gucci’s, as she has never owned anything from the Florentine luxury brand. “We are burning it, not selling it. These products are offerings for the dead, not the living, how are we violating [Gucci’s trademarks]?” asked the owners of another store in Sheung Wan.

The Financial Times has held that the demand for such goods peaks during the annual Qingming festival, which took place this month, as it is when families visit the graves of relatives to honor the dead.

According to a statement from the design house, “We want to prevent the public thinking mistakenly that Gucci is selling funeral products. As a brand we have to defend our intellectual property.” The house further held that it has taken a “soft approach” by writing to the stores rather than initiating more significant legal action.