CHINA – Xiyingmen Beer Co Ltd has been ordered by a Shanghai court to pay AB InBev-owned Harbin Brewery Group Ltd US$64,717 (RMB 400,000) for using packaging that looked very similar to its competitor.
The Shanghai Intermediate People’s Court ruled that the Zhejiang-based Xiyingmen Beer had infringed on Harbin Brewery’s well-known trademark and caused the plaintiff to lose revenue due to the confusing packaging.
"An important part of the case was determining whether Harbin Brewery Group's beer could be considered a famous product, because the value of the trademark lies in how well consumers recognize it," said Judge Hu Zhenyuan, who presided over the case.
The judge explained that another focal point of the case was whether the plaintiff's product packaging was distinctive enough for consumers to differentiate it from other products of the same kind.
The court ruled that the feature pattern on the bottle was distinctive enough, and when Xiyingmen Beer used similar packaging, there was sufficient evidence to show that consumers confused the two companies' products and may have bought the defendant's beer by mistake.
China’s Anti-Unfair Competition Law disallows companies from using packaging similar to that of its competitors without authorization.
One of the largest breweries in China, Harbin Brewery is owned by AB InBev, which acquired the company in 2004. The oldest brewery in China, Harbin Brewery was founded in 1900 and owns popular beer brands Hapi, Golden Hapi, Harbin Heart and Harbin Premium Lager.