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Beer maker thanks court over infringement case

By CUI JIA | | Updated: 2024-04-18 15:42
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The intellectual property rights of enterprises can be well protected wherever the infringement activities take place, a famous beer manufacture in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region said in a recent letter sent to the Supreme People's Court appreciating the efforts from courts in Jiangsu province in intellectual property protection and creating a healthy market environment.

The letter came after Xinjiang Wusu Brewery Co Ltd won a trademark infringement case tried in Jiangsu against a company that produces and distributes beer under the brand name Niaosu, the Supreme People's Court said on Thursday.

In August 2020, Nanjing Niaosu Brewery Co Ltd started to use the brand name Niaosu, which looks extremely similar to Wusu when printed in Chinese. Also, the design of the brand name and beer packaging distributed in the market both share great similarity with those of Wusu beer. Xinjiang Wusu Brewery considered that acts of infringement and counterfeiting.

The case was first tried in Nanjing Intermediate People's Court, the court found that though the design of Niaosu beer's packaging wasn't exactly the same as of Wusu beer, it could easily make the consumers confused and mistake Niaosu for Wusu, which has a history of about 38 years and is a popular beer brand in China. And the company has been using the current distinctive design of the beer packaging in red since 2016.

In 2016, Calsberg gained full ownership of Wusu, as part of the company's ambition to develop local Chinese beers. Today, the beer company that originated from Wusu city has five breweries across Xinjiang and is on sale in over 30 cities around the country.

The court also believed that Niaosu beer deliberately chose the brand name and designed the packaging that shared great similarity with Wusu with the intention of confusing the consumers and taking advantage of the influence of Wusu, which constitutes unfair competition. So, the court supported Wusu beer's litigation claims and asked the defendant to pay up 2.08 million yuan ($287,452) in compensation.

The defendant was not happy with the verdict and took the case to Jiangsu High People's Court, which later upheld the decision of Nanjing Intermediate People's Court.

The Supreme People's Court said that the courts in Jiangsu have treated the local business and the business based in other regions equally during the trials of the case, which can help to boost entrepreneurs' confidence in protecting their intellectual properties anywhere in China.

It added that the case is a good example of the courts' efforts to regulate business environment in accordance with the law. The courts will strike hard on acts of taking advantage of the influence of popular brands to receive illegal gains to help optimizing China's business environment.

Liu Jian, a fan of Wusu beer, said the consumers won't take the products seriously if the manufacturers chose to imitate the styles of other popular brands. "Niaosu only sounds like a joke to me."

Although the packaging of Niaosu and Wusu beers look alike, Liu said he won't make the mistake during purchases. "If you turn the can of Wusu beer over, the brand name in Pinyin on the label printed upside down reads 'nsnm', Some people say it's just the same as the abbreviation of the Chinese phrase 'knock you out.' So, just look for that," Liu said.

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