Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Gucci, copyright and the dead

For more on this see:

Gucci is waging a war on the 'knockoffs' industry, and they are taking this to a whole new level. They are going after the afterlife market where merchants sell 'paper' Gucci products which are burnt as offerings for the dead. Gucci sent a letter asking the merchants to stop selling these 'paper' Gucci products as it is an infringement of their trademark.

I suppose for Gucci; this is a matter of principle.

This should be one of the rare the times that patent laws get tangled with the realm of the dead. Some of these offerings are 'originals' like Hell Money (the currency that the dead used in hell). See the picture below. Although one can argue that the Hell Money resemble paper notes from the world of the living. Essentially, these paper offerings mirror the material culture of the world of the living. Besides the mundane stuff, there are many 'status' paper offerings which are mostly all ripoffs / knockoffs. Well, the Mercedes-Benz, the Rolexes, Nokias for the dead are all knockoffs of the real. 

Image from
All these paper offerings seemed to reflect an obsession with wealth and branded material goods. This ritual can be read as some form of filial piety where the living makes sure that their departed loved ones live comfortably with all the modern day comforts in the afterlife. That their loved ones don't become envious of those slinging their Gucci handbags sashaying on the high street in hell*. Or They won't need to borrow mobile phones if they need to make a call.

From this perspective, it appears that even in afterlife one could not escape vanity and obsessive material possession. Rather even after experiencing death, the living interprets the afterlife and hell based on the material consumption.

What does this mean when Gucci deems this an infringement of their copyright? Will all future 'paper' handbags be brandless to avoid copyright infringement?

Will this be a new market for Gucci and other brands as they provide the real 'paper' Gucci handbangs? Suppose they should launch their 'afterlife' line? If so, would there be new collections for every season?

At the time of publishing this blog entry, Gucci apologised over this incident. (For more see:

One shop owner selling these paper handbags resembling Gucci products said jokingly that if he received the letter from Gucci, he will send it to the underworld (burn) and see what they think about it.

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