At least half the wine sold in China is fake. A survey from Wine Intelligence magazine last year also found that fear of purchasing a shanzhai or “replica” bottle is the biggest barrier to people buying more wine.
So an Australian firm called Linkar has collaborated with Guangdong Guangxin on a smartphone app capable of authenticating the alcoholic drink.
The hope is it will empower ordinary shoppers to buy more wine, even as Chinese officials and state-owned enterprises pare back their purchases as part of the government’s austerity drive.
“As a small premium producer, it is vital that wines sold into the China market are protected from being copied, which destroys the integrity of our crafted product,” wine producer Murray McHenry told the Australian.
Starting from next month McHenry Hohnen reds will be the first wines Chinese can test with the new app, the newspaper said.
Wine lovers simply have to place their smartphone camera over a small code on the side of the bottle and it will show the wine’s journey from vineyard to table (or shopping basket).
Of course, the system isn’t foolproof, if someone then refills that bottle – as does happen – they could, in theory, pass it off as the real thing.
The system is currently limited to a few Australian wines but if it take off it could be a way to prevent fraudulent French wine – possible the most faked type – entering the market.
Indeed if it were really shown to work other industries might be interested too.
David Hon the chief executive of the California-based folding-bike company Dahon told the Wall Street Journal last week that as many of the half the folding bikes for sale on Taobao infringe his company’s intellectual property rights, something he spends over $200,000 a year fighting.
And last month the Shenzhen Business Daily reported that local police had seized over 100,000 fake Viagra tablets.
But no amount of smartphone technology can guard against the chutzpah of three farmers from Dengzhou in China’s central Henan province.
Fed up with the ‘non-performance’ of local officials they set up a rival government, the same in name and look – in a building adjoining the actual administrative HQ.
They even began recruiting civil servants using fake letterheads and government stamps.
Their downfall came, however, when they tried to levy penalties on a developer who they accused of illegal construction. The developer sensed something was amiss and alerted the real government to the shanzhai officials next-door.
The men will be charged with faking government documents – though not subverting state power – Xinhua reports.
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