Penfolds locked in Chinese legal battle

14th July, 2014 by Lauren Eads

Treasury Wine Estates has been challenged over the use of its adopted Penfolds Chinese name, “Ben Fu”, after a court verdict granting the Australian winemaker rights to the name was appealed.

Penfolds

As reported by the South China Morning Post (SCMP), Treasury Wine Estates said it had won a court case granting it the right to use the name, despite the fact that other had already registered the name, which means “chasing prosperity”, in the country.

One such trademark holder, Li Daozhi, the founder of Wenzhou, Zhejiang-based wine distributor Panati Wine, has since appealed the verdict with legal proceedings now in effect to determine who holds the right to use the name.

Daozhi previously won a similar legal battle against French winemaker Castel Frères which forced the company to rename Cavesmaitre, one of its brands, from “Kasite” to “Kasidaile” in China.

Roger Sharp, Treasury’s director of corporate affairs, said in an email to the SCMP: “This appeal is still pending and it will take time for the Chinese legal system to process this matter”.

Another man, Li Shen, also holds rights to the name, according to China Trademark Office Filings, however both hold varying rights to its use.

According to reports, Li Daozhi holds the rights to the name in restaurants, bars and guesthouses, while Li Shen holds the rights for rice wine, whiskeys, grape wine and alcoholic beverages other than beer, rights which will expire in 10 years.

Treasury Wine Estates has registered its rights only for the English version of the Penfolds brand name, with its lawsuit seeking to prove it is the rightful owner of the Chinese version of the name.

The ongoing court case is the latest in a series of high-profile trademark wrangles between big names including Château Lafite Rothschild, Castel and Hennessy.

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