CIPN: Copycats of Hennessy's Bottle Dodge a Bullet Thanks to Copyright Ownership Technicality
French company Société Jas Hennessy＆ Co. filed a copyright infringement case at Guangzhou IP Court, suing Guangdong Kalaer, Meizhou Zhongfa Brandy, Guangzhou Lishi Brother Trading and a Liquor Wholesale Shop (located in Dali Town, Nanhai District of Foshan) owned by an individual surnamed Ou, for making and selling brandy products carrying the brand of JOHNNYS BLUE XO SPECIA, whose bottles were accused of violating the reproduction, distribution and information network dissemination rights of Hennessy's Paradis bottle. Hennessy sought an injunction and damages.
Hennessy claimed that it created the art work of Paradis bottle on April 23, 2001 and debuted globally on May 16, 2001. On January 15, 2015, Hennessy registered copyright for the art work in China. JOHNNYS BLUE XO SPECIA was suspected of adopting a design highly similar with the Paradis bottle, raising questions of copyright infringement.
The four defendants argued: First, the evidence is insufficient to prove that Hennessy is the copyright holder of the art work, and nothing indicates that Hennessy claims its copyright considering the voluntary nature of copyright registration. Second, the infringement alleged by Hennessy is groundless.
Guangzhou IP Court held that, first, the overall design of the Paradis bottles embodied personalized expression of the designer in high artistry, creativity and aesthetics, meaning that it can be deemed as the art work protected by the Copyright Law of China.
Second, Under Chinese laws, the design patent application for the Paradis bottle was filed in 2001 with Agnes Dieri listed as the designer. Agnes Dieri owns the copyright of the Paradis bottle. Hennessy's claim of the copyright based on the printed word "Hennessy" on the bottle is weak.
In this connection, Guangzhou IP Court made its first-instance judgment, denying Hennessy's requests.