Treasury Wine Estates (TWE) is taking legal action against alleged ‘copycat’ producer Rush Rich, accusing it of infringing the Penfolds trademark and ‘liquidating’ Brand Australia.
Penfolds owner takes legal action against ‘copycat’ operators
The company has filed legal proceedings against Rush Rich in the Federal Court of Australia, claiming trademark infringements in Australia and China against the Penfolds brand, and also against Ben Fu (the Chinese transliteration of Penfolds).
TWE CEO Michael Clarke said the work being done by Australian wineries was being compromised by a few ‘copycat’ operators, ‘whose actions are effectively “liquidating” Brand Australia’.
He added: ‘We have become aware of a number of copycat operators that are taking illegal and unfair advantage of the success of iconic brands such as Penfolds.
‘The infringing products and misleading claims these operators are making, and the association they falsely claim to have with our brands, are unconscionable.
‘We are putting on notice any bad faith operators in Australia – and anyone working with these operators – that this exploitation will not be tolerated.’
Some of the ‘copycat’ wine, TWE said, had been sourced from bulk wine suppliers and third-party bottlers in South Australia, shipped to China with labels ‘that copy the look and feel of Penfolds wines’.
‘We must work to put a stop to this,’ said Clarke.
Tony Battaglene, chief executive of the Winemakers’ Federation of Australia (WFA), said his organisation would continue to work with the Australian Government to prevent copycat products from entering the supply chain.
‘Over recent years, the Australian wine industry has enjoyed huge success in overseas markets,’ he added. ‘This success relies on the integrity and quality of our wine – a reputation that is put at risk by copycat wines being exported from Australia.’
The legal action comes just over a year after TWE won a case in Beijing against a ‘trademark squatter’ who claimed ownership of the Ben Fu trademark.