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China IP magaziine

CONSEIL INTERPROFESSIONNEL DU VIN DE BORDEAUX TRADEMARK INFRINGEMENT

发布时间:2018-5-22

Trial Docket: (2016) Xiang 01 MinChu No. 1775
Hunan Province
[Headnotes]
This is the first civil case that the GI collective trademark "Bordeaux 波尔多" is granted judicial protection in China. It is an encouraging decision made by the Changsha Court that, if "Bordeaux" is used on the wines, as long as it is established that the wine is not from the Bordeaux region, the act of the wine producers/sellers constitute trademark infringement.
[Synopsis]
Plaintiff: Conseil Interprofessionnel du Vin de Bordeaux (CIVB)
Defendant : Hunan Margaux Trading Co., Ltd.
Conseil Interprofessionnel du Vin de Bordeaux ("CIVB"), founded in 1948, is a French interest group representing nearly 10,000 Bordeaux wine producers and growers, and 400 wineries. One of the many missions of the organisation is to promote the brand and defend the prestige of the Bordeaux wines in France and abroad. A Bordeaux wine is any wine produced in the Bordeaux region of southwest France. As of 2015, there are 60 Bordeaux appellations in the region that are recognized by the Appellation d'Origine Controlée (AOC), giving Bordeaux more appellations than any other wine region in France as well as in all of Europe.
On July 14, 2012, CIVB registered with the China Trademark Office (CTMO) the geographical indication ("GI") collective trademark "BORDEAUX波尔多" (BORDEAUX in Latin & Chinese character) in Class 33, designating wines. The collective trademark is used by the CIVB members, provided certain requirements are met: the chateau and vineyards must be located inside the geographical boundaries of the region; the chateau must agree to follow the specific rules and regulations set forth by the appellation for vineyard practices, allowable grapes, minimum and maximum yields, minimal sugar and alcoholic levels, as well as established practices for vinification.
In March, 2014, CIVB found a Hunan Margaux Trading Co., Ltd. ("Hunan Margaux") offering for sale multiple products with the trademark "玛歌堡" (Margaux Castle in Chinese), and "BORDEAUX" printed on the front label. It was easily confirmed that the said wine was not from Bordeaux region and, furthermore, that it did not meet the special quality requirements of Bordeaux wine.
In October 2016, CIVB filed a lawsuit before the Changsha Intermediate Court against Hunan Margaux on the ground of trademark infringement. The court reasoned that, the "BORDEAUX" mark was used on the cap and the frontal label to serve as a source identifier of the products. Such use falls under the category of trademark use. The accused mark "Bordeaux" is similar to the cited mark (BORDEAUX in Latin & Chinese character). More importantly, CIVB gave a statement that neither the Defendant nor the chateau indicated on the bottle was a CIVB member that is entitled to use the "BORDEAUX波尔多" GI collective trademark, a statement the defendant failed to rebut. The Court therefore found that sale of such wine constituted trademark infringement. The Changsha Court issued a judgment on July 4, 2017, awarding court injunction and damages of RMB 150,000. Wanhuida Peksung represented CIVB in the civil proceeding.
[Judge's Comment]
As the jewel in the crown of French wine, Bordeaux has a long history of being the victim of wine forgery in the Chinese wine market.
Even though BORDEAUX is registered with the CTMO as GI collective trademark, the administrative enforcement authorities tend not to find trademark infringement on the unauthorized use of such mark; some even hold that the mere use of Bordeaux does not constitute similar trademark to "Bordeaux波尔多", as the prominent part of the GI collective mark is the Chinese component "波尔多".
This is the first civil case that the GI collective trademark "Bordeaux波尔多" is granted judicial protection in China. It is an encouraging decision made by the Changsha Court that, if "Bordeaux" is used on the wines, as long as it is established that the wine is not from the Bordeaux region, the act of the wine producers/sellers constitute trademark infringement.
With these parameters on trademark infringement on GI collective mark established, the decision is expected to serve as a point of reference to the local administrative enforcement authorities in their enforcement practice in the future.