23 August 2021TrademarksAlex Baldwin

Ferrero Rocher’s marks were infringed, says Chinese court

A court in Shanghai has ruled that an outfit that repackaged Ferrero Rocher chocolates into unauthorised products that included a reprint of the Ferrero logo, infringed the Italian chocolate maker’s marks.

The defendant, Liu Mouyang, ran an operation selling repackaged Ferrero Rocher chocolates in smaller boxes at a higher mark-up than the original products.

The court heard how Liu bought the chocolates in bulk at a lower unit price and then repackaged them into custom-made smaller packages that featured the 'Ferrero' branding.

The outfit also illegally manufactured the labels, base cards, plastic boxes and the rest of the packaging materials.

Liu pled guilty to the infringement and voluntarily paid an unknown compensation to the rights owners. The court sentenced him to three years in prison, issued a five-year suspension sentence, and fined him 300,000 yuan ($46,000).

Shanghai’s Third Intermediate People’s Court posted about the ruling on the Chinese micro-blogging site Weibo on August 19, 2021.

‘Damages goodwill’

According to the court’s post on Weibo, police seized more than 490,000 Ferrero Rocher counterfeits between July and September of 2020, featuring more than 800,000 “Ferrero” trademarks—leading to Liu’s arrest and trial.

The court said that it suspected that more than 5.65 million infringing labels were manufactured in the operation, with an estimated price of 1.7 million Yuan.

"The way products seek illegal benefits not only undermines my country's trademark printing management regulations but also damages the goodwill of the right holders and the rights and interests of consumers,” stated the court.

“In addition, the defendant did not have the qualification for food sub-packaging, and could not guarantee that the hygienic environmental conditions of the sub-packing process and the health of the sub-packing personnel met the sub-packing standards. There was a food safety risk, which brought safety hazards to the health of consumers,” it added.

As China continues to globalise, President Xi has been playing catch up to ensure laws and in place to strengthen protections for both national and international rights owners. To find out more, WIPR spoke to Jenna Curtis, director of brand programmes at Corsearch, to find out how the IP protection landscape is shifting in China.

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11 April 2018   Ferrero Rocher has been awarded an injunction as well as damages against a Chinese company which produced “lookalike” chocolates in violation of an earlier trade dress injunction.
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