Penfolds owner Treasury Wine Estates has won a high court battle against a trademark squatter claiming ownership to a widely understood Chinese translation of the Australian wine brand's name - but the dispute doesn't end there.
Beijing's High People's Court stripped a Spanish-Chinese individual called Li Chen of the right to use the 'Ben Fu' trademark, a translation of the Penfolds name.
The ruling is the latest twist in a dispute that has lasted for several years.
It concerns a practice known as 'trademark squatting', which has also affected French wine producers in China, most notably Castel but also some Bordeaux Châteaux.
But, the Penfolds saga in China has not ended.
Li Chen registered the Ben Fu name in 2009 and Treasury Wine Estates first applied to have that registration cancelled in 2012. Beijing's People's court upheld Treasury's wish, stating that Li Chen could not prove that she had 'used the trademark commercially'.
The court ruling in favour of Treasury Wine Estates merely means that the 'Ben Fu' trademark is again open to registration.
The Australian wine giant must re-apply for the sole right to use the Ben Fu name, and the high court said that Treasury was not guaranteed success.
China has become a significant growth driver for Treasury Wine Estates, and for Australian wine exports in general.
Asia in general generates good returns for Treasury, accounting for 7% of the company's wine sales by volume but 13% of its global net sales and 27% of its global operating profit in the company's last financial year.
A free trade deal signed between Australia and China is gradually reducing tariffs on Australian wine entering the Chinese mainland.
Translated by Sylvia Wu / 吴嘉溦
All rights reserved by Time Inc. (UK) Ltd. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of Decanter.
Only Official Media Partners (see About us) of DecanterChina.com may republish part of the content from the site without prior permission under strict Terms & Conditions. Contact email@example.com to learn about how to become an Official Media Partner of DecanterChina.com.