The Chinese trademark office has recently taken two important back-to-back decisions in favour of legitimate wine trademark owners.

Two major Bordeaux wine companies have just won their cases against trademark squatters in China. This is very good news indeed given that decisions taken over the past few years by the Chinese trademark office have seldom been in favour of legitimate trademark holders.

In the first case, although the BARRIERE FRERES trading house was the holder of the Grand Bateau trademark: (click here to view image) , under class 33, the Chinese trademark office, which checks prior legal rights before accepting a registration, had accepted the application of the (click here to view image) logo, also falling under class 33. 

BARRIERE FRERES reacted by filing an opposition, and their argument on the risk of confusion between the two trademarks was upheld by the Chinese examiners. The fraudulent trademark was therefore rejected, even though, interestingly, an opposition filed by the well-known Beychevelle trademark: (click here to view image) had previously been rejected!

In the second case, the CHATEAU AUSONE trading house won their case for cancellation action against the application for the Chinese ideogram trademark: (click here to view image), which translates into “AUSONE” in French.

This decision is all the more surprising given that CHATEAU AUSONE did not hold prior legal rights on these ideograms. Both the trademark’s prior use in China as well as its popularity led the trademark office to conclude that the Chinese applicant (known among Bordeaux wine owners as “Mr XIE, the trademark squatter”) had acted in bad faith. 

Although the problem of trademark squatting still persists in China, such decisions may be indicative of major shift in the trademark examination policy of the Chinese trademark office, particularly within the broader context of bilateral negotiations between China and the European Union.

It appears that the efforts of the European Commission are now coming to fruition. INLEX IP EXPERTISE, through its LEX’WINE department, is in close collaboration with European negotiators on every aspect of the wine industry.