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Lafite takes Lafitte trademark battle to China

A long-running dispute between Chateau Lafite Rothschild and Cotes de Bordeaux producer Chateau Lafitte has spread to China.

(Barrels in the cellar at Chateau Lafite Rothschild in Bordeaux)

First growth Lafite Rothschild has complained to China’s trademark office over the registration of the Lafitte name by its Bordeaux counterpart.

The move is a continuation of a long-running battle between the two estates in France, which began in 2003 and culminated in France’s highest appeals court allowing Lafitte to keep its name in 2008. 

A spokesperson for Domaines Barons de Rothschild, owner of Lafite, said, ‘As one of the most recognised brand names in China, this is part of an ongoing battle to control the unauthorised use of our name in various global markets.’

To date, the company has launched around 300 injunctions against trademark infringement within China alone.

‘We feel that we are now simply being subjected to judicial harassment,’ Philippe Mengin, owner of Chateau Lafitte, told decanter.com. His estate exports 95% of its 300,000-bottle annual production.

‘We are clearly not the same price bracket at Lafite Rothschild, and in no way resemble them visually. I now have no option but to spend another two years in legal action, and a vast amount of money, to defend the same principle that I have already proved in France.’

An independent source confirmed to decanter.com that Chateau Lafitte is currently on the market and being advertised for sale to Chinese purchasers.

Chateau Lafitte traces its origins to 1763, when it was owned by Raymond Lafitte. Its 2010 vintage sells for around £20-a-bottle in Europe. Lafite Rothschild 2010 this week had a market price of £6,500 per 12-bottle case on the Liv-ex trading platform.

This story was first published on Decanter.com’s sister site, Decanterchina.com. See it here.

Written by Jane Anson in Bordeaux

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