Recently, a seven-year-old wine brand “Mouton” against “Muton” ushered in a final judgment. THE BEIJING HIGHER PEOPLE’S COURT RULED THAT THE WORLD-RENOWNED WINE BRAND ROSSCHILD “MOUTON” WON THE LAWSUIT, WHILE THE “MUTONG” USED BY SHANGHAI BANDI WINE INDUSTRY CO., LTD. will be revoked due to the potential for confusion among goods.
In recent years, with the continuous growth of imported wine consumption, similar “big brands” phenomenon is common. The “famous brand”, counterfeit origin, and false high prices have become the three major marketing methods for counterfeiting imported famous wines. Famous wines advertised as “Lafite” and “Penfolds” may come from nameless estates; Some wines labeled “imported in raw bottles” are actually produced domestically; “Sweep” high-end foreign wines that cost thousands of yuan, the actual price is only tens of yuan…
The analysis believes that the chaos in the imported wine market not only causes harm to real imported brands, but also interferes with the market order and infringes on the interests of consumers, which urgently needs to be strictly managed.
Creative image / Beijing News reporter Wang Yuanzheng
Routine 1: Brand name “Pong Da Brand”
A FEW DAYS AGO, THE BEIJING HIGHER PEOPLE’S COURT MADE A FINAL JUDGMENT, AND THE WORLD-RENOWNED WINE BRAND ROSSCHILD “MOUTON” WON THE LAWSUIT, AND AT THE SAME TIME REVOKED THE “MUTONG” TRADEMARK REGISTERED BY Banti.
The Beijing High Court pointed out that consumers usually refer to the relevant wine brands and wineries as “Mouton” and “Mouton Winery”, which shows that the word “Mouton” constitutes a distinctive part of the cited trademark. In addition, the pronunciation of the disputed trademark “Mutong” and the distinctive identification part of the cited trademark “Mouton” are exactly the same, and it is easy to believe that the goods of each other originate from the same entity or have a specific connection, and then cause confusion and misidentification of the source of the goods.
On March 18, the French Bordeaux wine flagship brand “Mouton Jiadi” Chinese mainland import and distributor Fuyi Wine Group responded to the Beijing News reporter that in order to enhance the brand’s recognition, the new version of “Mouton” has been upgraded in packaging, and a series of new designs highlight a clearer and more recognizable brand impression.
In this intellectual property dispute over similar trademarks, Shanghai Banti’s practice of registering the homophone trademark “Mutong” was questioned by the industry as a “big brand”. In fact, in the wine industry, similar phenomena are not uncommon.
Beijing News reporters recently searched on a number of e-commerce platforms and found that well-known wine brands such as Chateau Lafite Rothschild, Chateau Cheval Blanc, Chateau Mouton, and Chateau Latour have become “pup” objects, and a large number of goods with similar trademarks and names are sold at the same time.
According to incomplete statistics from the Beijing News reporter, “Lafite” wine alone has more than 20 products with similar names on sale, becoming the most popular brand.
Some wine Chinese labels add other Chinese characters to the name “Lafite” or use other homophonic characters to confuse trademarks, such as “Lafay”, “Lafite”, “Lafite”, “Château Lafite”, “Petit Lafay”, “Lafite Castell”, “Lafite Count”, “Raphael”, “Baron Lafite”, “Lafite Basque”, “Lafite Legend”, etc.
In foreign wine labels, there are only slight differences between the foreign language names of some products and the original product in the spelling of letters; Some even label the product directly with Hanyu Pinyin instead of foreign languages. Among them, many goods do not clearly mark the information of the production enterprise, and the list price is varied, ranging from a dozen yuan to several thousand yuan. On the Alibaba platform, a “Baron Lafael” with a price of 98 yuan per bottle only indicates “origin in France”, but does not indicate manufacturer information.
The relevant person in charge of ASC Fine Wines, the general agent of Lafite Rothschild Group’s fine wine in China, responded to the Beijing News reporter that “Lafite xx” or “xx Lafite” in the name is emerging one after another, which is also one of the main directions of Lafite rights protection, and the best way to avoid buying fake Lafite is to choose a truly credible channel.
Routine 2: The origin label pretends to be “original import”
In addition to the “famous brand”, the Beijing News reporter found “imported wine” with extremely low prices on many e-commerce platforms, and there were more than 430 “imported Lafite” with a price of less than 20 yuan on the Alibaba platform alone. For example, a “Lafite Empire Dry Red” marked as “imported from France”, the recommended retail price is 988 yuan / bottle, but the actual price is only 13 yuan / bottle.
The actual price of “Lafite Empire Dry Red” marked “imported from France original bottle” is only 13 yuan per bottle
An industry insider revealed to the Beijing News reporter that some merchants label the wine produced or canned in China as “original original bottle imported wine”, falsifying the origin information. Some merchants mix cheap imported bulk wine in domestic cans, and then affix high-end “foreign labels” of their own design, and sell them as “imported wine in original bottles”, which is difficult for consumers to distinguish.
Wine expert Fang Jun introduced that a real bottle of imported wine must go through importers, agents and terminal sellers before reaching consumers, and each link will increase the price, and its actual market price should be much higher than some low-priced “imported wines” currently sold on the market.
According to customs data, China’s total imports of bulk wine in 2017 were about US$159 million, a year-on-year increase of 40.80%; The total volume was about 181 million liters, an increase of 25.51% year-on-year.
According to industry insiders, a considerable part of these imported bulk wines are canned and used by merchants who counterfeit imported high-end wines.
The Beijing News reporter found that many printing companies on the Internet have undertaken the business of “printing imported wine labels”. According to a company that claims to be “Foshan Shunde Sixin Paper Products Co., Ltd.”, after the customer pays and confirms the design, it is expected to be delivered in three days, and the maximum cost of each exquisite “imported wine label” is only about 0.16 yuan. In the process of transaction, customers do not need to provide proof materials such as trademark ownership, brand authorization, and product production license.
In addition, on the Alibaba platform, “Shanghai Yihe Printing Technology Co., Ltd.” publicly undertook the “imported wine label” business, and completed the printing of 1,100 yuan and about 30,000 imported wine labels in the six months ended March 18.
According to the regulations, the original bottle of imported wine must be affixed with a regular Chinese back label, otherwise it may be counterfeit or smuggled products. The back label must contain the name of the wine, the year of the grape harvest, the grade, the region of origin, the bottler, the name of the winery, the name of the country of origin, the name of the operator, etc., if this information is incomplete, it may also be counterfeit.
Routine 3: Inflated high price face marketing
In August last year, a news story with the content of “a bottle of imported wine with a ‘scan price’ of 1399 yuan, the actual price is only 11.5 yuan per bottle” unveiled the unspoken rule of the wine industry of “high scan price and low price”, and inflated prices have become a major common means of counterfeiting imported wines.
An investigation by a reporter from the Beijing News found that this kind of “high scan code price and low price” situation is not uncommon.
On the Alibaba platform, “Fu Portuguese Import and Export Trade Co., Ltd.” has a “French original wine imported dry red wine” priced at 15 yuan per bottle, and clearly plays the slogan of “red wine high scan code price of 1980 yuan”. On Taobao, a “genuine imported Bordeaux AOC red wine gold medal 1618” priced at 110 yuan claims that “the scan price is 2200 yuan”.
In a liquor store in Beijing’s Daxing district, an “imported” wine labeled “Lafitte” priced at 98 yuan per bottle was priced at 1,399 yuan by scanning the code. The store’s salesperson said that if the actual price of the wine is similar, if the high price is “swept”, consumers will feel “more face” and more willing to buy.
Some industry insiders revealed to reporters that some consumers who do not know about wine brands often believe in more expensive and “high” products. Some illegal merchants who counterfeit imported famous wines take advantage of this consumer psychology and use the routine of false prices and high prices to sell.
Lawyer Zhao Shanqi, a member of the Civil Law Committee of the Guangzhou Lawyers Association, once said that merchants dealing in “high scan code and low price” wines are suspected of violating the relevant provisions of the Price Law and using false or misleading price means to lure consumers into unfair price behavior. Consumers may pursue the civil liability of merchants in accordance with law, or they may file complaints with the competent authorities, and should retain relevant proof of purchase, merchants’ publicity leaflets, advertisements and other evidence in order to protect their rights in accordance with law.
Written by / Beijing News reporter Wang Shukun
Editor / Squirrel-kun
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