DBR Lafite has won a landmark lawsuit against two companies in China for infringing its trademark rights, a win for the French wine conglomerate.
DBR Lafite, owner of Bordeaux first growth Château Lafite Rothschild, has successfully defended its legally trademarked ‘Lafite’ and its Chinese name ‘拉菲’ against two companies, Guangdong Shantou Fajiala Trade Co, Ltd and a Beijing-based firm Laofanke Trade Co., Ltd, according to a court ruling by Beijing Intellectual Property Rights Court delivered on 30 April.
The court says the products sold by the two companies bear resemblance of Chateau Lafite Rothschild’s grand vin in terms of design and name, hence deliberately misleading consumers, reported Chinese media Xin Jing Bao.
The court also orders Falajia, the worse offender of the two, to pay DBR Lafite RMB 2.1 million (US$311,900) for economic damages. Given Laofanke is not a specialised wine distributor selling copycat wines supplied by Falajia, Laofanke was spared of financial retribution.
A search in Chinese found that Fajiala boasted on its company introduction that it is an approved distributor of DBR Lafite’s 拉菲私家系列 (Lafite private reserve) and 拉菲酒窖系列 (Lafite Cellar), which are in fact two non-existent wine ranges from DBR Lafite’s portfolio.
The win was announced four days after Penfolds won a legal case against Rush Rich, which reverse translated its Chinese name ‘奔富’ and mimicked the Treasury Wine Estates flagship brand’s look and feel.
Penfolds and DBR Lafite are among one of the most faked imported wine brands in China due to their popularity.
Château Lafite Rothschild, the storied Bordeaux first growth captured many people’s imagination. Its prestige has also helped give new found fame for DBR Lafite’s lesser brands such as Legende and Saga, which both bear the Lafite family’s five arrow logo.
Meanwhile, its name has landed on copycat brands such as Lafite Family, Lafei Manor, Lafei Empire in China. The latter two played on Lafite’s transliterated Chinese name.
The exact scale of counterfeit Lafite is hard to gauge, but one official Xinshi Li, president of the Chinese Academy of Inspection and Quarantine, claimed that half or more of the bottles of purported Château Lafite Rothschild sold in China are probably made on boats bobbing off the coast of China, according to a report by Quartz.