Moët wins Hong Kong legal settlement over auction of fake champagne in city

High Court litigation sees auctioneers Acker Merrall & Condit admit passing off a fake as vintage Krug champagne at 2012 sale and infringing on owner Moët Hennessy’s trademarks; auction house emphasises no ruling made against it

PUBLISHED : Friday, 07 July, 2017, 2:23pm
UPDATED : Monday, 10 July, 2017, 2:58pm

Moët Hennessy has won a legal dispute in Hong Kong against wine auction house Acker Merrall & Condit in what the French champagne maker says is part of its ongoing fight against counterfeiting.

The dispute involved a counterfeit bottle of Krug Collection 1947 champagne that the auction house presented for sale in the city in September 2012.

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Moët Hennessy, the wine and spirits division of LVMH, the world’s leading luxury products group, brought a High Court case against the auctioneers for trademark infringement and passing off.

The court issued a final ruling that Acker Merrall & Condit acknowledged it infringed upon Moët Hennessy registered trademarks, and passed off as Krug champagne a product that was not genuine, a statement from Moët Hennessy said.

However, Acker Merrall and Condit subsequently issued its own statement, in which it said: “Contrary to the insinuation of [Moët Hennessy] ... there was no trial and, as such, the court never ruled against Acker on any disputed issues of fact. Rather, after years of litigation the parties simply negotiated settlement terms which were embodied in a consent order prepared by both sides and upon which the court placed its seal.”

No details of the settlement were available.

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Moët’s statement said Acker Merrall & Condit had agreed to conduct “reasonably appropriate authentication procedures” to ensure all products it puts up for auction that bear the Krug trademark and/or any of the other Moët Hennessy Champagne registered trademarks have been produced by and/or ultimately sourced from Moët Hennessy.

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Moët Hennessy said it was working “in close collaboration with local and global law enforcement to defend and protect consumers” against fakes.

Editor’s note: This story was updated on July 10, following receipt of Acker Merrall & Condit’s statement, to clarify that the High Court did not hand down a ruling in the case.