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Australia sends first intellectual property counsellor to China

Australia is sending its first intellectual property rights counsellor to Beijing as part of the country’s latest efforts to protect Australian companies’ trademarks in Mainland China after Penfolds was caught up with a prolonged court battle with a Chinese company over its Chinese name.

Summergate and TWEAustralia will be joining an array of countries such as the US, Britain and Japan that have already sent IP counsellors to China as trade between the various countries continues to expand from bulk commodities to more food and beverages, reported the Financial Review.

Thanks to a Free Trade Agreement that took effect last year, China and Australia’s wine trade has reached an all time high. Earlier this year, China already topped the US to become Australia’s top export market.

The IP counsellor, David Bennett, will start his work in Beijing next year, and has already warned companies hoping to break into the Chinese market to register their trademarks as early as possible, noting some Chinese firms preempt companies trying to tap into China and register their trademarks beforehand to gain trademark buy-out payment etc.

One such famous case was Treasury Wine Estates’ Penfolds brand. A Chinese company registered Penfolds’ Chinese name – ‘Ben Fu‘ – before the company could file trademark claims.

The case is still ongoing and has cost Penfolds millions of dollars, Bennett said.

Trademark once applied is valid for 10 years in China and costs AU$500 or AU$1,000.

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