A copycat rendition of the recently released “One by Penfolds” collection has emerged in the Chinese market selling at just RMB 55 a bottle on one of China’s biggest e-commerce platforms for drinks, raising familiar concerns about counterfeit wines.
Benfords Hyland, a producer who has been a longtime offender of Penfolds brand, has struck again and introduced a wine that mirrors One by Penfolds, a collection that for the first time included a Chinese wine from Ningxia. The copycat comes less than a year after the original collection’s launch, causing a stir among wine enthusiasts.
One by Penfolds, unveiled by Penfolds in September 2022, gained immense popularity in China, defying the challenges posed by the pandemic. The collection, which smartly excluded Australian wines, showcased wines from the US, France, and a pioneering venture into China’s Ningxia region.
Despite the odds, the wine collection was an immediate success in China selling for RMB 228 a bottle. The inaugural vintage of 2020 saw over 100,000 cases sold in China, achieving impressive distribution through Penfolds’ flagship online stores, major retail chains, independent liquor stores, and restaurants, Treasury Wine Estates, the parent company of Penfolds, revealed in the 2023 annual report.
Now, a lookalike and a cheaper version at a quarter of its price, has emerged in the form of Benfords Hyland, a producer who has been producing lookalike Penfolds for years. On the Chinese drinks e-commerce platform Jiuxian.com, the imitation “One by Penfolds” wine, sold under the Benfords Hyland label, touts to have “complex and enjoyable flavors”.
A blend of Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon, the copycat beats the original even by one vintage younger.
In addition to One by Penfolds, a search on Jiuxian.com of “Benfords Hyland” also rendered a few more results of copycat Penfolds including BN 88 and BNL 128.
According to available public information in Chinese, Benfords Hyland was imported into Chinese market by a Shenzhen based company called Shujianxiang Liquor Store. It claims Benfords Hyland is indeed an Australian wine brand and shares the same high quality South Australian standards and high-yielding grapes the same as Penfolds, though admitting that the brand has no legal relations to Penfolds.
Previously the company was also found to have been selling other Penfolds lookalike including Benfords Hyland BF 398 and BF 358 on popular e-commerce platform Pinduoduo.
TWE To Take “Swift and Far-reaching” Actions
This is not the first time that Benfords Hyland has been at legal loggerheads with Treasury Wine Esates, the parent company of Penfolds, which has taken several legal actions against what the company calls “serial infringer” over the years including trade mark infringement and unfair competition lawsuits, and trade mark invalidations.
Despite previous legal victories secured by Penfolds, Benfords Hyland remains in defiance of prior court orders by persisting in infringing upon Penfolds’ rights including with this recent One By Penfolds copycat variation.
In response to these ongoing infringements, Penfolds has disclosed to Vino Joy News its intent to initiate “swift and far-reaching” enforcement measures. These actions will include filing a lawsuit seeking punitive damages for the continued infringement. Legal action will also extend to related distributors, with the aim of eradicating all infringing activities from the market.
Speaking to Vino Joy News, Treasury Wine Estates Global Director Intellectual Property, Anna Olsen, reaffirmed the company’s unwavering commitment, stating: “Treasury Wine Estates is committed to protecting and enforcing its intellectual property rights, and the integrity and reputation of its brands. In China, we continue to work very closely with local authorities, as well as our local partners and brand protection agencies, to protect not only our portfolio of premium brands but also the interests of our business partners and consumers. This continues to be an utmost priority for TWE and we are very grateful for the ongoing support we receive from the Chinese government and other industry bodies.”
Penfolds has won a landmark trademark of its transliterated Chinese name 奔富 after 10 years of court battle, but despite the win copycats still emerged and it was only last year it won a lawsuit against another copycat Rush Rich.
*Updated on September 6 with comments from Treasury Wine Estates.