THURSDAY, 17 APRIL 2008
Sweet Result for Italian Chocolate Company
An enduring issue, which has fundamentally touched on Italo-Chinese relations, has been finally resolved by a Beijing court. After three years of litigation between the parties, the Supreme Court of Beijing has decided that the packaging of ‘Ferrari’ chocolates, produced by the Chinese company Montresor-Zhanjiagang, slavishly copies that of ‘Ferrero Rocher’ chocolates, produced by Italian company Ferrero International. Both types of chocolate are sold on the Chinese market.
The ultimate result of the litigation, which the Chinese company has no right to appeal, is that the offending packaging must be changed immediately. Montresor has also been ordered to pay a fine of 500 thousand renminbi, equal to about 50 thousand Euro.
The declaration of the court will not only consolidate the leading position of Ferrero Rocher chocolates in the Chinese praline, and the growing chocolate, markets. It will also serve as a precedent in China, sending a message to Chinese authorities – from the Italian perspective, long-due – that such slavish copying of get-ups cannot be formally permitted nor substantially tolerated. To this end, 5 anti-counterfeiting offices have already been opened in China, to help small and medium businesses apply for trade marks.
The nature of Ferrero Rocher chocolates as a strong example of the Made in Italy brand meant there was great interest in the Ferrero-Montresor matter in Italy, where it was seen as a national trade issue. Indeed, the Italian Minister for International Trade, Emma Bonino, took a personal interest in the matter, and followed its progression through the Chinese courts. This journey commenced with an unfavourable result for Ferrero in the first instance decision of February 2005.
Ultimately, though, a favourable result was obtained on appeal to the Court of Tianjin, now affirmed by the Beijing Supreme Court. This, reports Minister Bonino, was a consequence of cooperation not only with the Italian Embassy in Beijing, but also with her Chinese counterpart Bo Xilai.
Posted by: Julia Holden @ 15.23