Danone, the French dairy and water group, has said it will appeal a court ruling in the British Virgin Islands over its trademark dispute with Chinese business partner Wahaha.

A Danone spokesperson in China told just-drinks today (8 January) that the firm would appeal a December ruling made against it by the High Court of the British Virgin Islands.

The move is the latest in a long-running trademark dispute between Danone and its joint-venture partner in China, Wahaha. The firms signed a deal in 1996, but Danone has since alleged that Wahaha illegally copied products and sold them outside of the venture.

As part of an increasingly global battle, Danone obtained permission to freeze assets of nine companies linked to Wahaha in the British Virgin Islands (BVI). December's High Court ruling revoked this permission.

A Danone spokesperson said today that the ruling "does not undermine Danone's intention to maintain and continue the substantive action against the nine company defendants in the BVI".

An arbitration court in Stockholm, Sweden, is set to hear the dispute between Danone and Wahaha early this year. Wahaha has called the hearing a "critical" point in the feud, while both firms claim to have the upper hand.

The Danone spokesperson said: "[Danone] looks forward to having the substantive issues in dispute finally brought to a full hearing on its facts so it can be vindicated in full."