Trademark cases: Danone and Wahaha

Danone and Wahaha set up five joint venture companies in 1996 to sell a range of drinks including bottled water and fruit juices. Danone took a 51% stake in the operations and says all Wahaha trade marks should have been transferred to the joint venture companies.

Danone had been using the disputed trade mark on products produced by a company set up as part of the joint venture. The joint venture turned sour in April this year when Danone accused its business partner of selling products that competed with those made by the joint venture company and which were illegally branded with the Wahaha mark.

Whether or not the Wahaha trade mark was ever transferred from Wahaha Group to the joint venture company has emerged as a key element of the dispute.

China’s Trade Mark Law says a trade mark assignment has to be recognized by China’s Trade Mark office (CTMO) to be valid.

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