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CHINA: Beijing IP court heard a trademark dispute between “Chateau Lafite Rothschild Winery” and “Real Estate Company”
On August 7, 2020, the Beijing IP Court made an award in favour of “Château Lafite Rothschild” (Château Lafite), a well-known French winery established in the 18th century. “Château Lafite” sued Huailai Lishihongya Company (怀来利世鸿亚公司) and two other unknown respondents on the grounds of the trademark infringement. The Beijing IP Court compelled the respondents to pay damage loss of 5 million yuan (approximately $720,000) and issued a public apology to the claimant “Château Lafite”.
The respondent “Huailai Lishihongya” specializes in providing clients with a wide range of real estate services like renting apartments, leasing of real estate, management etc. Therefore, this company has registered the trademark “Château Lafite” (the Chinese name - 拉斐) in class 36 under the Nice classification of goods and services. In its turn, the real trademark owner “Château Lafite” has been acquiring a reputation of a good wine producer since the late 1990s. So, this trademark is well-recognized not only by Chinese consumers but also by consumers from all over the world. Furthermore, the trademark has been well-recognized while conducting the trademark administrative review and litigation procedures. The real trademark owner registered trademark “Lafite” (the corresponding Chinese name - 拉菲, registration no.: 1122916 and 6186990) in class 33, which belongs to spirit drinks except for beers.
After the Beijing IP Court conducted a thorough examination of all the facts and pieces of evidence submitted by both parties, the Beijing IP Court came to the conclusion that the respondent “Huailai Lishihongya” had intentionally copied, imitated and made a translation of the well-known trademark. These aforementioned actions caused to the public’s misleading and “Château Lafite” incurred colossal monetary losses. Hence, the Beijing IP Court approved the respondent “Huailai Lishihongya” had violated the exclusive rights of the real trademark holder, referring to art. 57 of the Trademark Law of China (2019). However, what was more interesting is the court’s decision of this case. The Beijing IP Court didn’t make any statement about immediate removal of the cited trademark from all the products and trademark systems.