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Xinjiang Wusu Brewery wins trademark case

Niaosu ordered to pay 2 million yuan for infringing on brand name, packaging

By Cui Jia | China Daily | Updated: 2024-04-19 09:28
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A Niaosu beer can (left) in contrast with a Wusu beer can. NANJING INTERMEDIATE PEOPLE'S COURT

Xinjiang Wusu Brewery has won a trademark infringement case 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 started to use the brand name Niaosu, which looks extremely similar to Wusu when printed in Chinese.

The design of the brand name and beer packaging also share similarities with those of Wusu beer, which Xinjiang Wusu Brewery considered acts of infringement and counterfeiting.

The case was tried in the Nanjing Intermediate People's Court, which found that though the design of Niaosu beer's packaging wasn't exactly the same as that of Wusu beer, it could easily cause consumers to mistake the two brands.

Xinjiang Wusu Brewery has a history of about 38 years and is a popular beer brand in China. The company has been using its current distinctive red packaging since 2016, when Carlsberg gained full ownership as part of the company's ambition to develop Chinese beers.

Today, the company has five breweries across Xinjiang and is on shelves in over 30 cities around the country.

The court believed Niaosu beer deliberately chose the brand name and designed the packaging to confuse consumers and take advantage of the influence of Wusu, leading it to support Wusu's litigation claims. Niaosu was asked to pay 2.08 million yuan ($287,000) in compensation.

The verdict was upheld by the Jiangsu High People's Court.

Liu Jian, a fan of Wusu beer, said consumers won't take products seriously if manufacturers choose to imitate the styles of other popular brands.

"Niaosu only sounds like a joke to me," he said.

Although the packaging looks alike, Liu said he wouldn't make a mistake while purchasing them.

"If you turn the can of Wusu beer upside down, the brand name in pinyin on the label 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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