TWEs chief executive, Michael Clarke, said copycats were "liquidating" Brand Australia

TWE's chief executive, Michael Clarke, said copycats were "liquidating" Brand Australia

Treasury Wine Estates has filed a lawsuit against Australian wine operator Rush Rich for allegedly selling "copycat" Penfolds wine.

TWE lodged the charge at Australia's Federal Court, claiming that Rush Rich has infringed on a number of trademarks for its Penfolds brand, including the Ben Fu name the wine uses in China. Announcing the lawsuit, TWE chief executive Michael Clarke attacked what he called "copycat operators" that attempt to take a free ride off the back of Australian wine's hard work.

Clarke said copycat operators "are effectively 'liquidating' Brand Australia. It is therefore critical for producers, industry bodies, authorities and government to take action now to protect the long-term reputation and success of Australian wine in export markets where TWE has forged significant growth for premium imported wine in recent years". 

Clarke said his biggest concern was copycat wine sourced and bottled through bulk wine suppliers and third-party bottlers in South Australia, and then exported under labels that copy the look and feel of Penfolds.

"There is no doubt that the Penfolds brand has played an instrumental role in the success Brand Australia is enjoying overseas," the CEO continued. "With this success comes the predatory behaviour of sophisticated copycat operators, which is bad for consumers, bad for Australian brand owners and bad for the Australian wine industry. What's worse is that some of this copycat product is being made and labelled in Australia - we must work to put a stop to this."

The lawsuit comes a year after TWE secured the Ben Fu trademark in China in a long legal dispute.

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