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China fines hotel chain for stealing the Disney magic

Walt Disney Company chairman and CEO Bob Iger speaks about the new Shanghai Disney Resort during a press event in Shanghai on July 15, 2015

Shanghai has fined a hotel chain for using Disney's name at five of its properties, state media said Wednesday, as the Chinese city seeks to defend the US entertainment giant before its theme park opening.

There were no Mickey Mouse ears on display in media pictures of the Shenzhen-based Vienna Hotels Group establishments, nor Buzz Lightyear costumes, but an image showed a sign declaring one a "Disney branch".

The chain also used Disney branding on electronic signs and websites, the official Xinhua news agency reported, citing the Shanghai Municipal Administration of Industry and Commerce.

Doing so violated the Disney trademark, the agency said, and it fined the firm more than $15,000.

China is notorious for violation of intellectual property rights.

But ahead of the opening of Disney's $5.5 billion Shanghai park next year, national commerce officials earlier this month launched a rare campaign aimed specifically at protecting the firm's brand.

Disney plans two authentic hotels at the park, one with the theme of the animated film series "Toy Story".

The five hotels are between 12 and 19 kilometres (7 to 12 miles) from the park site, said Shanghai Media Group website Kankanews.