Treasury Wine Estates wins landmark case in China

Australian wine giant Treasury Wine Estates (TWE) has won a landmark legal case in a Chinese court, affirming TWE’s lawful right to use the Chinese translated trademark name – “Ben Fu ” for its flagship wine brand Penfolds.

Penfolds' flagship store

Penfolds’ flagship store

A final judgement handed down by the Beijing People’s High Court confirmed that a Chinese individual who had registered the Ben Fu trademark in 2009 has failed to demonstrate any genuine use of the trademark for wine or related business activities.

The trademark will be subsequently cancelled, allowing TWE to claim its right to ownership of the Ben Fu name, and freely use it across China.

In Chinese, Penfolds is transliterated as Ben Fu (奔富), which means ‘chasing prosperity’.

Robert Foye, TWE president and managing director of Asia and Europe, said the judgement is significant as it cements TWE as the legitimate owner of Ben Fu.

“Ben Fu is the most widely recognized wine brand in China. This is due to the fact that we have a long and strong history of actively marketing high quality Penfolds wine using this transliteration,” Foye said.

“Protecting the integrity of our historic wine brands against trademark piracy is critical. We have never wavered in our commitment to defend our position as the rightful owner of the Ben Fu trademark in China, and we are absolutely thrilled with this decision.”

Penfolds has been in the China market for more than 25 years. It has grown to be one of the most sought-after wine brands in China, in part thanks to its auspicious sounding Chinese name.

A few foreign companies in China have been recently entangled in lengthy legal battles. This has spurred Australia to send its first intellectual property rights counsellor to Beijing  to protect Australian companies’ trademarks in China.

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