Qing Ming festival
Shop owner Chow Kum Len shows off a paper replica of a Rolls Royce car complete with a Caucasian driver.ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP/Getty Images)

For the brand conscious, this may come as a big blow, especially in Hong Kong. There has been a growing trend among Hong Kong residents, not to mention the Chinese community all over, to offer paper replicas of luxury items like big houses, luxury cars, iPads, flat screen televisions and even branded bags to loved ones who have died.

These items are burnt in the hope that they will be 'delivered' to the deceased for their use in the after life. The items are most popular during the annual Qingming or the tomb-sweeping festival which took place in April. On this day, the Chinese visit the graves of their ancestors to clean the graves, say prayers and make offerings.

The tradition has now stepped up a notch in recent years, with families now offering their deceased family members luxury items like luxury cars and branded items. Even enormous villas with swimming pools, multiple garages and Western domestic helpers are sold by these shops.

Italian luxury goods maker Gucci however does not seem amused that its goods are being used as paper offerings to the dead. It obviously thinks that its products should only be used in the current life - not the after life, or so it seems.

burnt offerings to the dead
A man looks at paper replicas of computers and smart phones among other things, that will be burnt as offerings to the dead, in Hong Kong.ANTONY DICKSON/AFP/Getty Images)

The company has sent out warning letters to shops selling paper versions of its luxury products, asking them to stop selling them "We fully respect the funeral context and we trust that the store owners did not have the intention to infringe Gucci's trademark," Gucci Hong Kong said in a statement.

"Thus a letter was sent on an informational basis to let these stores know about the products they were carrying, and by asking them to stop selling those items." "We fully respect the funeral context and we trust that the store owners did not have the intention to infringe Gucci's trademark," Gucci Hong Kong said in a statement.

The letters did no have any suggestion of legal action, the BBC noted. Shop owners however are not too happy. "We are burning it. These products are offerings for the dead, not the living, how are we violating copyright?" the owner of a store in Sheung Wan in Hong Kong asked.

Local reports said that following the letter from Gucci, some shops have stopped selling the Gucci paper products. However paper versions of other products like Louis Vutton, Yves St Laurent, Burberry and New Balance continue to be sold in these shops as burnt offerings for the dead.

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Reports of Gucci moving in on the 'after-life' branded goods sale has received some backlash on social media. Vincent Charles writes: "Does Gucci want to open branches in the underworld?"

Another social media user, Sammi Ng says: "Maybe Gucci should launch their own paper offering products." A third person, Sai Ken, who noted the prices of Gucci products said: "Living people cannot afford [Gucci products], and they still do not let you own Gucci products after death!"

Michael Teh says: "I reckon that this might cause steep price hike of Gucci items in the underworld, during next year's Qing Ming."