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China silk market traders protest "fake goods" label

BEIJING, Feb 6 (Reuters) - Stall owners at Beijing's Silk Street Market, for years famous for its knock-off designer ware, protested at a law firm representing trademark holders this week after seven were suspended for selling pirated goods.

Fifty people crammed the hallway and banged on walls at the 11th-floor office of IntellecPro, whose clients have an anti-piracy agreement at the market, an employee surnamed Peng said by phone.

"For the last two days they have disrupted our regular work schedule, making a scene and shouting," Peng said.

The crowd demanded evidence that the suspended shopkeepers had sold pirated products and hung a sign on the wall reading, "You want to get rich, we want to fill our stomachs," the Beijing News said on Thursday.

The stall holders blamed the market's reputation for counterfeit goods on unlicensed hawkers after six others were caught selling fake Louis Vuitton and Gucci bags on Wednesday, the report said.

Pirated goods from unreleased DVDs to North Face jackets and Microsoft software are widely available in stores and on streets across Beijing.

Western companies and politicians have complained for years about lax enforcement of intellectual property laws in China.

China last week repeated vows to strengthen protection of copyrights and trademarks afer the United States claimed victory against it in a groundbreaking World Trade Organisation case.

The Silk Street Market last year unveiled its own brand, SILKSTREET, and, apparently with a straight face, warned counterfeiters not to copy it. (Reporting by Beijing newsroom; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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