Pernod Ricard's Chivas Regal Scotch whisky has extended its trademark protection in China, as the French firm tells just-drinks that drinks companies continue to face a battle against counterfeits in the country.

Both the names 'Chivas Regal' and 'Chivas' have been recognised by the Chinese Trade Marks Office (CTMO) as "well-known trade marks" in the country, Pernod announced today (10 June). Third parties may not subsequently use or register 'Chivas Regal' in Chinese or English characters, or 'Chivas' in English, for any goods - not only spirits - "where such use may cause confusion" in the country, the company said.

"This is an important result for Chivas Brothers as China is the largest market for Chivas Regal Scotch whisky and a significant investment is made to promote the brand throughout China every year," said Christian Porta, CEO and chairman of Chivas Brothers, the Scotch and premium gin arm of Pernod.

The announcement comes two weeks after Pernod CEO Pierre Pringuet told just-drinks that counterfeiting remains a "significant problem" for drinks companies in China.

"The good thing is that they do it to Chinese producers as well as international firms, so we are all in the same boat," said Pringuet, who spoke with just-drinks at a Pernod business conference held in Paris at the end of May.

A union of international drinks companies, the International Federation of Spirits Producers, has around 100 people on the ground in China tasked with rooting out copycat versions of well-known brands, Pringuet added.

He said that, despite ongoing difficulties, the group has made progress and that the counterfeiting issue is "less serious" than it was a few years ago.

Brand protection is a growing focus for drinks firms in China, which was last year predicted to become the world's largest economy by 2025.

The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) is currently in negotiations with Chinese authorities with a view to securing a Geographical Indication for Scotch in the country.

Direct Scotch whisky exports to China rose 5% to GBP44m in 2008, according to SWA figures. Officials believe the real value of exports is higher, saying that a rising proportion of cases are being sent to Singapore and shipped on to the Chinese market.

Chivas Brothers CEO Porta today thanked the SWA and the UK embassy in Beijing for supporting the Chivas Regal trademark application.

Like-for-like global sales of Chivas Regal fell by 1% in value and 4% in volume for the nine months to the end of March, said Pernod in its recent third quarter results statement.