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China property developers sued for infringing Lafite’s trademark

Three property developers in China have been accused of misusing “Château Lafite” in their property names and sales channels.

A residential property with the Chinese translation of Chateau Lafite at the front gate.

According to the People’s Court Daily, Domaines Barons de Rothschild (DBR) found out three developers in China were breaching the trademarks of Château Lafite by naming their residential properties as “Château Lafite”, “拉斐水岸” and “拉斐”, with direct reference to the English and Chinese name of the renowned winery.

The names and logos are used in prominent locations such as the front gate of community housing, supporting facilities, one the WeChat public account, sales centre, and official website.

DBR filed a complaint in The Beijing Intellectual Property Court, which found the trademark infringement valid as the developers had imitated or translated a well-known registered trademark to mislead the public and cause the interests of the registrant of the well-known trademark may be harmed.

Advertising banner of one of the developers in the case

The developers were responsible for RMB 5 million compensation made to DBR.

When Lafite entered the Chinese market in the 1990s, it swiftly became a household name standing for top-class French wineries. The legendary 1982 vintage of Lafite has been widely seen in Chinese movies and TV series as a representation of luxury class and taste.

In addition to counterfeits and squatter registration, trademark infringements is also an issue in China, especially for a brand such as Lafite, whose fame has proliferated to a mass level.

DBR first registered the ‘Lafite’ trademark in October 1996 under the 33rd category of ‘alcoholic beverages’. Since then it has expanded the registration items and categories from time to time.


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