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TWE wins lawsuit against copycat wine brand

TWE wins lawsuit against copycat wine brand

Treasury Wine Estates has won its case against copycat brand Rush Rich in China.

The company noted last year that it was of particular concern that the wine is believed to be sourced and bottled through bulk wine suppliers and third party bottlers in South Australia, and then exported under labels that copy the look and feel of Penfolds wines, infringing TWE’s rights to the Penfolds and BEN FU trademarks.

In a statement to Drinks Business, TWE said: “The Shanghai Pudong Court has reached a decision confirming that Rush Rich International Trading Inc and its associated company East Bright Sunshine (Jinjiang) Import & Export Co have engaged in unfair competition by making false allegations as to their history and fame in relation to the Australian wine industry and misleading Chinese consumers in to believing that they have a relationship with the Penfolds brand.

“Instead the Chinese Court found that Rush Rich is clearly a Chinese wine brand and its claimed history and fame in relation to the Australian wine industry is false and misleading. TWE welcomes this decision and will continue to enforce against any entity seeking to take unfair advantage of its brands through its proactive brand protection strategy.”

Shanghai, a year after it filed a lawsuit in both Australia and China.

Rush Rich has been ordered to pay $US207,900 in losses to TWE and must also issue statement on Chinese publication Wine In China, as well as Rush Rich’s own WeChat account to “reverse the negative impacts it has caused caused TWE”.

TWE's lawsuit against Rush Rich in Australia is on-going.

In April last year, Rush Rich director Vincent Zhao told The Advertiser it was the valid owner of the trade mark.

“We reject, in the strongest terms, Treasury Wine Estate’s assertion that we have infringed any trademark held by Treasury Wine Estates and will contest this vigorously in the Federal Court," he said. "We have also filed a cross claim in the Federal Court against Treasury for misleading or deceptive conduct.’’

Australian wine label directory a step in the right direction

Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud announced earlier this month the development of a Wine Label Intellectual Property Directory, which aims to protect Australian wine exporters from dodgy copies.

The directory will be searchable by image elements, brand name and publication date and will display a trademarked image of labels, the exporters ABN, brand name and date the label was published to the directory.

"You will not be able to export to anywhere around the world unless you are on this directory, and if you try to, we will stop you, and you will not get an export license. It's as simple as that," he said.

'We have had incidents in China where we have had knock-offs trying to take Penfolds and calling it Benfolds.

"This rips off our producers, and it also ruins the reputation of our wine when customers expect a quality Australian wine and receive a cheap knock-off.

"If you're on this directory, you'll have currency. You'll have brand Australia behind you. You'll have the green and gold kangaroo that will prove that your wine is actually Australian wine.

The Coalition government has invested $427,000 to create the directory, with its ongoing administration to be funded by industry.

Australian Grape & Wine has welcomed the announcement of an Australian Wine Label Intellectual Property Directory.

“This announcement will help Australian wine businesses of all sizes to protect their brands and intellectual property from those who seek to rip it off” said Australian Grape & Wine Chief Executive, Tony Battaglene.

“Australia’s reputation as an exporter of premium wines has not happened by accident. Over many years, Australia’s wine export approval arrangements have given customers confidence in the knowledge that the contents of a bottle matches the claims about vintage, variety and region on the wine label.

“In the coming months we will work closely with Government as regulatory changes are implemented to support the Label Register,” Battaglene concluded.