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French Liquor Maker Wins Piracy Case in China; Vietnam Builds First Oil Refinery


Two Chinese companies have to pay a $37,000 fine to French cognac maker Hennessy, in compensation for infringing the company's trademark.

A Shanghai court said the name of a drink marketed by Xiang Mu Trading Corporation and bottled by Xiamen Golden Huanyu Food Corporation was too similar to the label Hennessy. It was called "Hanlissy" or, in Chinese, "Henglishi".

The court ruled that the companies, which sold the wine in local supermarkets as "French cognac brandy" although it was bottled in China, had misled consumers and ordered them to stop selling the product.

Amy Sommers, a partner in the international law firm Squire Sanders in Shanghai, says more foreign companies are filing lawsuits in China to combat the rampant piracy of trademarks, patents and other intellectual property in the country.

"We are seeing that these cases are really publicized, which I think is part of an effort by the government to let people know that while the government itself may not have sufficient prosecutorial resources to go after all infringing parties, that there are risks for those who engage in infringing activities and they could be civilly libel for those actions," said Ms. Sommers.

Construction work on Vietnam's first oil refinery has started, almost a decade after it was approved by the National Assembly.

The Dung Quat refinery project in central Quang Ngai province is expected to start operating in 2009. Despite being a crude oil producer, Vietnam has no refining facilities and has to import almost all of its refined oil products.

The project is expected to cost $2.5 billion and requires the building of vast support facilities, including a port.

State oil company PetroVietnam signed a construction contract with the French Technip group, which leads a consortium including the Japanese engineering giant JGC Corporation and Spain's Tecnicas Reunidas.

Hong Kong's aviation authority has granted a license to a new low-cost, long-haul airline. The government approved the application of Oasis Hong Kong Airlines to operate flights between the territory and selected cities in Europe and the United States.

And Hong Kong's largest carrier Cathay Pacific will buy or lease 16 Boeing and three Airbus planes. It is the company's biggest ever, single order. It has also taken options on 20 more Boeing aircraft.

Cathay Pacific, which now operates 95 planes, plans to expand as economic growth worldwide has spurred business and leisure travel.