A court in Shanghai has recently prosecuted three fraudsters who churned out and sold counterfeit Bordeaux wines worth RMB 1.4 million (US$220,174).
The crime syndicate reportedly started when one of the fraudsters surnamed Zhao established a wine company with his own wine brands in 2015. In 2018, Zhao later appointed suspect Wang for product marketing.
Not pleased with the dim sales performance, the duo decided to produce fake Bordeaux wine for more profits starting from March 2019, and colluded with their client surnamed Jiang to fabricate more fake Bordeaux wine.
According to police, Jiang provided fake wine labels and the duo were in charge of bottling and production in their workshop.
In the raid, the police uncovered RMB 250,000 (US$39,316) worth of unsold counterfeit wines with ‘BORDEAUX’ geographical indication (GI) trademark produced by Zhao and Wang.
In addition, police have busted another 16,000 unsold bottles of fake Bordeaux wine in a company warehouse operated by Zhao, which totaled RMB 260,000 (US$40,889).
Through investigation, the police also found that Jiang had ordered from the duo and sold more than 60,000 bottles of wine with the fake Bordeaux GI trademark, totalling RMB 880,000 (US$138,393).
BORDEAUX is a recognized GI trademark in China, which was obtained by Bordeaux’s official trade body CIVB in 2012.
Among China’s wine consumers, Bordeaux is well-known for its prestigious wineries and world-class quality wine. The French wine region exports around 40% of its wines to China annually, making China one of its most profitable export markets.
Given Bordeaux’s popularity in China and the lucrative profit, the region’s wines ranging from Cru Bourgeois to first growth wines are frequently targeted by fraudsters and copycats.
To combat the counterfeits, Bordeaux’s official trade body CIVB has been applying for intellectual property rights for close to 50 Bordeaux GIs within China’s legal framework in the past decade. It has also trained law enforcement officers on wine labelling related to GIs to protect the appellation.
In 2019, CIVB won a victory in a year-long legal battle against a wine counterfeiter in China, signifying Bordeaux’s dedication to protect its trademarks. Shortly after the court ruling, the counterfeiter Yantai Bai Qi Wine Company paid a fine of RMB 500,000 (US$78,631) to CIVB.
But Bordeaux’s heightening measures has yet to fully eradicate fraudsters from infringing its trademark. Just in September 2021, another largest counterfeit Bordeaux wine case was busted in China. The police in Shandong uncovered 13,000 cases of counterfeit Bordeaux wines worth over RMB 300 million (US$46.5 million), according to local media reports.