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Champagne wins landmark protection case in China high court

Comité Champagne has achieved a landmark legal victory in Beijing’s high court, becoming the first foreign appellation to be granted “well-known trademark” status in China.

Champagne wins landmark protection case in China high court

On 30 November 2023, the Beijing High Court ruled in favour of Comité Champagne regarding a lawsuit against a Chinese manufacturer and a distributor of perfumes sold under the name “Champagne Life”.

The court ordered the two companies to stop all manufacture, sale and distribution of the perfumes, and Comité Champagne was awarded nearly €30,000 in damages.

The Beijing High Court also confirmed Champagne was granted “well-known trademark” status in China. This status, reserved for very few names, provides extensive protection, including in Chinese characters, against any fraudulent use of the name Champagne, for any product.

Charles Goemaere, Comité Champagne’s managing director, commented on the decision: “Beyond the conviction, this decision proves to be a huge step forward for the protection of the Champagne appellation in China.”

He said that Champagne is the first foreign appellation to obtain this recognition.

Prior to the ruling, Champagne has benefitted from geographical indication (GI) status in China since 2013. However, GI status only protects the region against other wines using the name. The new “well-known name” status prevents any products and services, even those unrelated to wine, from being labelled and marketed with the name Champagne.

Comité Champagne first brought the case to court in 2022, when the Beijing Intellectual Property Court convicted the two cosmetics companies of infringing Champagne’s GI trademark.

The “Champagne Life” perfume is produced by the Guangzhou-based Xuelei Cosmetics Co. Ltd., and distributed by a Beijing-based cosmetics company called Yali Shadi Cosmetics Co. Ltd.

In the original court case, Comité Champagne argued that the label of the perfume was mimicking Champagne’s trademarks, and risked weakening the connections between the trademarks and the appellation’s products.

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