Bordeaux’s storied winery, Petrus, has secured a victory in China against fraudsters who are churning out non-existent Petrus second wine that was first spotted at the country’s biggest wine fair.
The judgement handed down by the Beijing People’s High Court upheld two previous court rulings that ruled in favor of the Pomerol estate against Wenzhou-based wine company, 温州柏翠堡进出口贸易有限公司 for the infringement of its legally trademarked Chinese name “伯萃斯”.
The Bordeaux winery was apparently alerted by a report that was done by me in 2017 at the China Food and Drinks Fair (Chengdu), the country’s biggest wine and spirits fair, when flagrant fakes were on open display at Kempski hotel. The fakes were so emboldened and prevalent, it could be best described as “Disneyland of fake wines”.
One of the copycat wines was produced none other but the Wenzhou company, claiming the lookalike PACURS as Petrus’ second label, which the Pomerol estate never produced. It also trademark a similar Chinese transliteration of Petrus “柏翠堡正牌” in 2015.
During the court proceedings, Petrus cited the report as part of the evidences it presented.
The 2017 report prompted Petrus to file a lawsuit against the Chinese company the next year at Beijing Intellectual Property Court, citing the Wenzhou company’s wine violated its officially trademarked Chinese name “伯萃斯”, which it had applied in 2014 one year before the Wenzhou company.
According to court documents released, Petrus argues the Wenzhou company used a similar sounding name and design to mislead the public, violating Article 30 of the Trademark Law of the People’s Republic of China. This led to the court ruling in favour of Petrus.
However, the Wenzhou company appealed the case subsequently to the National Intellectual Property Court and ultimately Beijing High Court. Both upheld previous court ruling, handing Petrus a victory to use its trademarked Chinese name.
The Beijing High Court ruled that when two trademarks are applied on similar goods, the trademark rights is therefore granted on a first-come, first-served principle. In this case, Petrus .
Interestingly, this is not the first time the Wenzhou company was thrust into fake wine controversy. It is also the distributor of one of the fake Chateau Lafite Rothschild brands in China, as it was implicated in another case in 2016.
Following the win, a search of 柏翠堡正牌 on China’s database of trademarks shows that it’s now inactive, whereas Petrus’ trademarked Chinese name 伯萃斯 is active and valid till April 13, 2025.
Known brands such as Penfolds and Lafite have all been mired in lengthy lawsuit to defend its intellectual property rights in China, which is often criticized by legal experts for its lax IP projections.
The country has stepped up its efforts to protect IP rights. In 2019, it amended its trademark law to curb bad faith filings.