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CHINA: Diageo files lawsuit against Johnnie Walker copycat

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Diageo has filed legal action against Chinese drinks firm Blue Blood, accusing the group of copying the packaging design used on Johnnie Walker whisky.

Diageo confirmed to just-drinks today (8 August) that it had filed a lawsuit against Shanghai-based Blue Blood Wine Co in the Shanghai No. 2 Immediate People's Court.

It has accused Blue Blood of violating China's competition law "by packaging its Polonius Whisky that imitates Johnnie Walker Black Label without authorisation".

The drinks giant, which counts Johnnie Walker as one of its major brands, added: "The infringement has hurt Diageo's rights and risk causing confusion in the market."

Alleged copycat products are a concern for many food and drink firms operating in a number of emerging markets. One of the most famous disputes in China, which is still ongoing, is that between Danone and its own local joint-venture partner, Wahaha.

Diageo said it would continue to "work closely with law enforcement departments of the government as well as specialised organisations to further promote anti-counterfeiting initiatives and uphold brand protection".

The firm is this month launching a new anti-fraud device for Johnnie Walker worldwide. A permanent gold band will appear around the bottle neck once opened, alerting suppliers and customers to bottles that have been illegally re-filled. Johnnie Walker sells around 15m cases globally per year. 


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