Cognac marks considered misleading as to geographic origin

The Trademarks Law prohibits the registration of a trademark that incorporates a geographical indication when the commodity concerned does not originate from that geographical region, such that the trademark would mislead the public. A "geographical indication" refers to an indication of geographical origin of the commodity and the associated quality, reputation and other characteristics of the commodity, as determined by the natural or human factors of that region.

Bureau National Interprofessionel du Cognac (BNIC) and the Institut National de l”Origine et de la Qualite (INAO) filed oppositions against the trademarks below, applied for by Chinese company Shenzhen Ying Jun Wine Co Ltd in respect of wine, brandy, cocktails, alcoholic drinks (except beer) and whiskey in Class 33. 


The BNIC represents and protects the interests of producers and merchants in Cognac and protects the Cognac controlled appellation of origin (AOC). The INAO is a French semi-governmental authority charged with, among other things, protecting French AOCs in France and abroad.

The China Trademark Office (CTMO) held that as the marks contained Cognac's geographical indication, they would be misleading and damaging to the reputation of the Cognac AOC when used on Ying June’s Class 33 products, which did not originate from the Cognac region. Thus, the CTMO refused registration of both marks.

The decisions are consistent with the CTMO’s earlier decisions in respect of similar oppositions filed by the BNIC and the INAO against the following marks applied for by Shenzhen Ying Jun Wine Co Ltd.


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