By Andy Young
Treasury Wine Estates (TWE) has won a landmark legal dispute in the Beijing High People’s Court, regarding the use of its Penfolds trademark in China.
The dispute centred around an individual in China who had registered the Ben Fu trademark in 2009; Ben Fu is the Chinese transliteration of Penfolds. The final judgment handed down by the court ruled that the individual had failed to demonstrate any genuine use of the trademark for wine or related business activities. As a result the trademark will be cancelled, allowing TWE to claim the ownership of the Ben Fu trademark registration and to use it across China.
TWE President and Managing Director – Asia and Europe, Robert Foye, said the judgment cements TWE as the legitimate owner of Ben Fu, a brand Chinese consumers clearly associate with Penfolds wine.
“Ben Fu is the most widely recognised 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 Chinese 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.”
The case came about in 2012 after TWE filed a ‘non-use’ action followed by a ‘bad faith’ action against the individual for registering the Ben Fu trademark in bad faith and for failing to use it for commercial or business activity.