In January 2023, the Shanghai Third Intermediate People's Court upheld the ruling of three-year sentence and 100,000 RMB fine to Wang and his company who were involved in the crime of counterfeiting the collective trademark "Bordeaux".
Let's take a closer look at the case.
In December 2015, Wang, together with his partners, established a company in Yantai City, Shandong Province. In 2019, the company started the production and distribution of wine labelled with "Bordeaux" trademarks without the permission of the trademark owner Conseil Interprofessionnel du Vin de Bordeaux (CIVB). Over 60,000 bottles of counterfeit Bordeaux wines were found to have been produced in about 2 years.
In 2021, Wang's company and warehouse were raided by the police. Wang, who was arrested for the crime of trademark infringement, later made a compensation of 1.28 million RMB to the trademark owner.
The first instance sentenced the defendant unit to a fine of RMB 450,000 for the crime of counterfeiting registered trademark and 3 years in prison to Wang with a fine of RMB 100,000. Wang and the defendants appealed against the decision by arguing that the wine they produced were in line with the national standards without endangering the heath or interests of consumers and Wang should therefore be given a lighter punishment.
After trial, the Shanghai Third Intermediate People's Court held that:
- The defendants used the same trademarks on the same products without the authorization of the trademark owner.
- Although Wang confessed his crime and compensated the trademark owner, in light of the criminal facts, production amount, sales amount, etc., the first instance judgment was not inappropriate.
- The appeal was not supported, and the sentencing was affirmed.
"Bordeaux" is a recognized geographical indication collective trademark owned by Bordeaux's official trade body CIVB and obtained GI recognition in China. As one of the most well-known appellations, Bordeaux wine enjoys great popularity and, unsurprisingly, is frequently counterfeited in China. Over the past decade, CIVB has invested a lot to combat counterfeits, obtain IP grounds and trained law enforcement agencies on wine labeling in order to protect its rights.
In this case, the defendants knowingly produced Bordeaux-labelled wines without authorization from CIVB. They also forged Customs declaration documents in order to deceive consumers that the raw materials were imported from Bordeaux.
It's also worth mentioning that Shandong is known for its vineyards and wine production, it is also home to many counterfeit wine producers. So the court's decision could serve as a strong deterrent message to those who may be engaging in the similar activities in the region.
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