A Chinese wine distributor, Panati Wine (Shanghai) Co., Ltd. (“Panati”) won the the largest trademark litigation in PRC wine industry so far against French winemaker Castel Freres SAS (“Castel”).

The dispute dates back in 2005, when Castel started an opposition against Panati’s trademark “Kasite” on the grounds that it has not been used for three years.

“Kasite” is the correspondent Chinese name of the well-known trademark CAVESMAITRE, registered in 2000 by Panati for its imported wine. At the same time “Kasite” was also one of the most famous Chinese translations of the French name Castel, which started its activities in China in 1999. In 2003 the “Kasite” trademark was offered for sale to Castel by Panati, but the French company refused the proposal due to its high price (1million euros).

Panati was able to prove that it some how used “Kasite” trademark and therefore could successfully challenge Castel’s opposition. Ownership of “Kasite” trademark was confirmed upon Panati.

At this point, in 2009, Panati sued Castelin a lawsuit, claiming 40 million RMB in compensation for illegitimate use –over the past years – of “Kasite” trademark. The Intermediate People’s Court in Wenzhou decided in Panati’s favor and ruled that Castel should compensate 33.73million RMB; amount confirmed by the higher court’s sentence, after an appealfrom both parties.

Castel has recently registered a new Chinese trademark “Kasidaile” to substitute the precedent discussed “Kasite”.