China trademark lawyersMore than a decade ago, our China lawyers compiled a long report on the legal issues related to selling wine to China. Our overall conclusion, which remains true today, is that exporting and selling wine to China is uncomplicated from a legal perspective — so uncomplicated that in some ways it is easier than selling wine domestically (at least in the United States). The biggest legal concern for those selling wine into China is protecting their IP and dealing with counterfeits.

On protecting IP, the key (as always) is to file an application for a China trademark of your brand name and your logo before you ship your first bottle to China. In filing for your China trademark, you need to be sure your secure trademarks in the right classes and subclasses for your particular product and business model and also seriously consider coming up with a Chinese language brandname for your wine and getting the China trademark for that as well. Some companies also use various high-tech anti-counterfeiting measures.

With offices in Washington, Oregon, California and Spain, our China lawyers have helped many a winery get its wines into China and be protected once there. Unfortunately, our China lawyers also have far too much experience helping wineries exit China after their China sales disappointed. Truth is, like most consumer products in China, marketing and selling wines in China is tough and success usually requires a large marketing budget and good partners on the ground. The bigger and better wine distributers and retailers in China will rarely market your wine for you. Instead you will probably need to market your wines yourself and this is often necessary even to get the good distributers and retailers to consider selling your wine.

Enter the online world and the marketing/distributing/selling equation may be changing, at least a bit and for some. has of late been pushing its program for taking foreign wines into the China market and using it for pretty much everything. Drinks Business last week did a story, China’s  JD.COM Steps up Imported Wine Business, highlighting’s progress in selling foreign wines online and its plans to attend the upcoming VineExpo to pitch more wineries on selling online.

According to the article, sold 40 million bottles of wines in China last year and it is now stepping “up its efforts to import directly from wine regions and wineries, cutting back on importers and middlemen.” can directly import from wineries and handle all customs clearance and logistic issues, making logistics a snap for the wineries. JD has a very good reputation but like any for profit business, it will no doubt work harder for the wineries on its platform with the strongest sales, so the marketing element is not completely out of the equation. Not only that, some believe that an “over-reliance on Chinese e-commerce platforms to sell our products for us means we are quickly losing our local knowledge and are risking our future in the world’s biggest market.

But, if you are not now selling your wines in China or you are doing so but making very little headway, something like’s online market may very well be the way for you to go.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this in the comments below. And for more on China’s wine industry, check out the following:





Dan Harris

I am a founder of Harris Bricken, an international law firm with lawyers in Los Angeles, Portland, San Francisco, Seattle, China and Spain.

I mostly represent companies doing business in emerging market countries. It has taken me many years to build my network and it takes constant communication and travel to maintain it. My work has been as varied as securing the release of two improperly held helicopters in Papua New Guinea, setting up a legal framework to move slag from Canada to Poland’s interior, overseeing hundreds of litigation and arbitration matters in Korea, helping someone avoid terrorism charges in Japan, and seizing fish product in China to collect on a debt.

I was named as one of only three Washington State Amazing Lawyers in International Law, I am AV rated by Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory (its highest rating), I am rated 10.0 by (its highest rating), and I am a SuperLawyer.

I am a frequent writer and public speaker on doing business in Asia and I constantly travel between the United States and Asia. I most commonly speak on China law issues and I am the lead writer of the award winning China Law Blog ( Forbes Magazine, Fortune Magazine, the Wall Street Journal, Investors Business Daily, Business Week, The National Law Journal, The Washington Post, The ABA Journal, The Economist, Newsweek, NPR, The New York Times and Inside Counsel have all interviewed me regarding various aspects of my international law practice.

I am licensed in Washington, Illinois, and Alaska.

In tandem with the international law team at my firm, I focus on setting up/registering companies overseas (via WFOEs, Rep Offices or Joint Ventures), drafting international contracts (NDAs, OEM Agreements, licensing, distribution, etc.), protecting IP (trademarks, trade secrets, copyrights and patents), and overseeing M&A transactions.