The local market watchdog has uncovered 24 fake Heytea, or Heekcaa, shops across Shanghai, officials said yesterday.
The shops were found to have used similar or same signs combining the Chinese and English trademarks of Heekcaa and Heytea, with similar logos on milk tea cups and packaging, the Shanghai Industry and Commerce Administration said.
Officials said the administration had received a complaint from the genuine milk tea chain about a number of fake outlets. The 24 it found were in 10 city districts.
At a fake shop on Renmin Road S. in Fengxian District, the only difference on figures on milk tea cups was in the color of hair and clothing, officials with the Fengxian Market Supervision and Management Bureau found.
Its investigation is ongoing but 13 of the fake shops will be punished for trademark infringement, the bureau said.
Under the regulations, they can be fined up to 250,000 yuan (US,975) if their illegal turnover is less than 50,000 yuan.
If turnover is over 50,000 yuan, they will be fined up to five times that amount.
Two shops found to have minor trademark infringement without serious public effect have been ordered to make things right within a certain period, while nine had already done so, the administration said.
The milk tea chain became a hit in Shanghai after opening its first shop in the People's Square area in March, with people queuing for hours to sample the product.
Its milk tea is particularly popular among youngsters, and trademark infringement cases grow with its popularity, administration officials said.
There were operators of fake shops who were not aware that they joined a fake Heytea operation and had paid high franchise fees, the administration said. It reminded businesses to be vigilant regarding franchise authorization via online sites.