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The Internationally Praised Whisky, Chivas, has received favorable treatment for IPR protection in China

The Internationally Praised Whisky, Chivas, has received favorable treatment for IPR protection in China

On April 25, 2020, China’s Supreme People’s Procuratorate issued a list of the top example cases in 2019 of criminal IP rights infringement.

In respect of a criminal prosecution case in 2019 involving the internationally praised whisky, Chivas, the defendants sold counterfeit Chivas whiskies generating 17 million RMB in revenue, whereas the outstanding stocks of 1600 bottles of counterfeit whiskies were found in the warehouse. In criminal prosecution cases, it was the public security bureau which carried out the investigation, gathering relevant evidence against the defendants. In the case, the lead defendant, a surname Gao Chinese was sentenced to 5 years and 8 months imprisonment and a fine of 4.5 million RMB (Approx. US$640,000)

This is a typical case concerning IPR judicial protection, the defendant was sentenced with imprisonment and given a considerable fine. Such sentences may serve as a deterrent for counterfeiting registered trademarks and helpful for upholding IPR protection.

Chivas Regal is a blended Scotch whisky produced by Chivas Brothers (hereafter “Chivas”), which is part of Pernod Ricard. Its origin is in Speyside, Scotland, founded in 1786 being the oldest continuously operating Highland distillery.

Chivas has been the market-leading Scotch whisky 12 years and older in Europe and Asia Pacific. Its sales grew by 61 % between 2002 and 2008. This blended whisky has been the world’s fourth best seller since 2016.

It was not the first time whereas Chivas has received favourable treatments in IPR protection in China. As in 2017, Chivas has been granted judicial protection for their three dimensional Trademark – for the very first time in China. In view of deciding on a 3D Trademark infringement verdict, the Chinese Trademark Court supported Chivas’ legal claims to protect the shape of their Royal Salute bottle as a three dimensional Trademark. It is the first known case in China where a Chinese court had enforced a 3D trademark in a functional shape.

Chivas is the owner of the Chinese trademarks “Chivas Regal” (Figure 1), “Chivas Regal and its device” (Figure 2), “Chivas Brothers” (Figure 3), together with a three-dimensional trademark (Figure 4) covering the goods “alcoholic beverage” in class 33.

(Chivas whisky image adopted from Chivas website)
It is nowadays safe to comment that Chivas has embarked on a prosperous journey in China riding on the likewise advancing legal and economic developments of the country.

Benny Kong & Tsai © 2023

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