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TWE files complaint to Tmall over ‘fake’ Penfolds

Just a week since Tmall wrapped up the much-anticipated ‘Singles’ Day’ online festival that brought in about US$18 billion for Alibaba, and the online retailer has received an official complaint from Treasury Wine Estates (TWE), the Australian wine giant that owns Penfolds, after the company discovered some of Tmall’s online “wine shops” were selling unauthorised Penfolds on Singles’ Day.

Sure success: Penfolds' adopted Chinese name, Ben Fu means "Chasing Prosperity"
Sure success: Penfolds’ adopted Chinese name, “Ben Fu” means “Chasing Prosperity”

In a phone reply to dbHK, TWE stated that the online Tmall wine shops in question have been notified by the company for either failing to provide proof of their wines’ authenticity or the source of the product.

Many of the wines have already been removed from online sales. Unlike many Chinese reports that have already circulated online, TWE stated no legal action is planned against these wine shops at the moment.

“Treasury Wine Estates is dedicated to ensuring the quality and authenticity of wines sold under our brands including Penfolds. We work closely with our e-commerce partners to protect consumers from counterfeit products and wines from unknown origins that are sold under our brand names.

“In this instance, TWE identified various unauthorised stores unlawfully using our trademark and TWE-owned copyrights, as a result, we filed complaints against those infringing listings via Taobao/Tmall intellectual property protection platform,” the company wrote to dbHK in an email reply.

The move is mainly to protect Chinese consumers against fake Penfolds wines, the company told dbHK, which is also in line with Tmall’s policy to safeguard online products’ authenticity.

Chinese media reports said that Tmall’s sales of wines and spirits on 11 November, for the first time, exceeded RMB 1 billion (about €135.8 million).

This is not the first time TWE has run into problems in China with Penfolds. In 2014, the company was locked in a legal battle with a few Chinese companies over the ownership of Penfolds’ Chinese name – “Ben Fu”.

The auspicious-sounding name, Ben Fu, which means “chasing prosperity” in Chinese in part contributed to Penfolds’ massive appeal to Chinese consumers.

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