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March 3, 2011

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Mall boss stunned at 'notorious' branding

SHAO Liang, the manager of an electronic product shopping mall near Fudan University was stunned to see the name of his mall on a list of "notorious markets" released by the United States Trade Representative.

The US body issued its list on Tuesday and a spokesman said that piracy and counterfeiting were undermining innovation and creativity.

"We never expected that we would be so famous," said Shao after he learned his mall was one of the "notorious" markets.

For the past few years he has been doing the same business as almost every other electronic products mall in China - selling cheap computers installed with pirated Windows systems and shanzhai (imitation or pirated) products, he said.

Besides Shao's small shopping mall in Shanghai, China's biggest online search engine and popular e-commerce platform are also on the list.

Shao's three-floor electronic products mall on Handan Road, the EGO Mall, is very popular with students at nearby Fudan University.

Some vendors on the third floor of the mall sell self-assembled desktop computers which are much cheaper than well-known brands and attractive to the poorer students.

To cut costs even further, vendors offer free pirated Windows 7 operating systems and other software.

A legal copy of Windows 7 can cost more than 1,000 yuan (US$152), which could be a student's monthly living expenses or increase the cost of a computer by up to a third.

"In my business, 99 out of 100 customers choose the pirated copies as there's no difference between legal copies and pirated ones," said vendor Ye Meng.

Shao said that, in response to being branded a "notorious market," the mall would be seeking to purchase legal copies of Windows software from Microsoft at a lower price so that students could afford it.

But Shao doubted whether students would purchase legal copies even if the price was cut in half as they could simply purchase a 5 yuan DVD of Windows 7 at stalls outside the mall. responded to its inclusion in the list of notorious markets by saying the platform would work closely with brands to improve its services. couldn't be reached for comment.


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