The Beijing IP court recently issued a judgement on the case Jägermeister vs Yego Hunter which grants a stunning damage compensation of 10 ml RMB explicitly including the punitive damages.
Jägermeister is a German digestif made with 56 herbs and spices. The recipe was developed in 1934 and – it is said that - never changed since its creation and continues to be served in its signature green glass bottle with the logo on the front representing a deer's head and a cross over it.
Yego Hunter is a liqueur produced and commercialized (as we learn from the decision) by a groupof companies and individuals: Shengluo Company Qingdao Wine Co., Ltd. (简称圣罗拉公司), Hefei Puyuan Commerce & Trade Co., Ltd. (合肥葡园商贸有限公司), and an individual named Chang.
The infringers used the logos "野格哈古雷斯" (Ye Ge Ha Gu Lei Si) and "YEGO HUNTER" as well as a deer head graphic on the labels of the bottles and on their website. The first two Chinese characters are the exact same of the trademark registered by Jägermeister and therefore are considered the Chinese translation of it.
Jägermeister sued the above companies, accusing them of trademark infringement and unfair competition.
In this case, Jägermeister claimed to be the owner of the trademarks No.5614224 "野格"；No.992806 "JÄGERMEISTER"; No.G795174 ""; No.G287599 ""; No.G1291858 "".
It also mentioned that "野格"and "JÄGERMEISTER" have constituted well-known trademarks with high reputation among Chinese consumers.
The plaintiff has sent a cease-and-desist letter, warning the defendants to stop using the trademarks immediately, however, the defendants kept using them and continued misleading the consumers. Thus, the plaintiff plead with the Court to confirm the trademark infringement and unfair competition of the defendants.
The defendants argued that they have registered the trademark No.31027236 "野格哈古雷斯" and they shall have the right to use their registered trademark on their products. Therefore, they claimed that they did not infringe the plaintiff's trademark rights.
On December 15th, 2022, the Beijing IP Court stated that:
1. Trademark No.5614224 "野格" and No.992806 "JÄGERMEISTER" are considered as well-known trademark because they have been widely recognized by Chinese consumers before the defendant applied for the No.31027236 "野格哈古雷斯", based on the evidence.
2. Trademark No.31027236 "野格哈古雷斯" (The defendant's trademark) have constituted copy of the plaintiff, and it infringed the plaintiff's trademark rights.
The defendant's use of "野格", "YEGE", "Yege Hunter", "YEGO HUNTER", "deer head" logo in the production and sale of the infringing goods have constituted use of the trademarks similar to the plaintiff's trademarks ("野格" and " JÄGERMEISTER ").
In addition, the whole visual structure and the exterior appearance of the 3D trademark of the defendant is similar to the one of the plaintiff.
3. Considering the bottle has been deemed similar to the plaintiff's trademark by the court, it not only violates the trademark law, but also the Article 6 (4) and 8 of unfair competition law. In fact, this similarity created a certain relation between the plaintiff's trademark and the defendant's trademark and caused confusion to the customers. Also, the images and logo were used for fake advertisement on the website to mislead the consumers.
4. Last but not the least, the court ordered the defendants to stop using the trademarks and supported the 10,000,000 RMB punitive compensation claimed by the plaintiff.
In this case, the punitive compensation calculation is mainly based on the monthly sale invoices offered by the defendant. These documents show that the defendant has received 8,538,200 RMB from purchasers in 2 months which is way more than the damage compensation of 5,000,000 RMB required by the plaintiff. Also, the court decided to grant punitive compensation which is 5,000,000 RMB. Thus, the compensation amount is 10,000,000 RMB in total.
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