Château Figeac retrieves its brand name, but not its monopoly

Monday November 04 2019 by Vitisphere

 The ruling “should curb untimely purification crusades after centuries of coexistence”, concluded Caroline Lampre, who claimed, “We should not have been taken to court”. The ruling “should curb untimely purification crusades after centuries of coexistence”, concluded Caroline Lampre, who claimed, “We should not have been taken to court”. - Photo credit : Château Figeac (Guillaume de Laubier)

Château Figeac is not about to get a taste of its own medicine. The October 29 ruling by the Bordeaux Court of Appeal puts an end to the legal risks incurred by the brand name Château Figeac, the Saint-Émilion Grand Cru Classé belonging to the Manoncourt family. The court’s First Civil Division has reversed revocation of the Château Figeac brand name ruled by the Bordeaux high court three years ago, on 29 November 2016.

Undoing the first trial ruling, magistrates recognised the right to claim use of the term Figeac in branding for Châteaux Cormeil-Figeac and Magnan-Figeac, the AOC Saint-Émilion Grand Cru owned by the Moreaud family. “The decision recognises the historical rights and privilege of tenement in favour of my clients”, stressed Caroline Lampre, the lawyer for the two chateaux summoned for deception by Château Figeac since 2012.

Although the “highly distinctive character of the place name Figeac for wine growing” is called into question for Châteaux Cormeil-Figeac and Magnan-Figeac, Château Figeac can be relieved by the ruling which restores its right to use its own trademark. In an unexpected twist, the court had ruled at first instance that Château Figeac brands had been revoked “due to lack of separate winemaking facilities”.

The Court confirmed that operation of the Château Figeac estate was in full compliance with the regulations and working standards”, said a press release issued by the Manoncourt family, which has reserved the right to appeal to the Supreme Court. “The Court mistook traceability of the crop for that of winemaking, including with external chateaux”, said Caroline Lampre, regretting the decision.

After taking many of its neighbours to court in the past for using the Figeac name, the classified growth did not succeed in confirming its monopoly over use of its name this time, but managed to come out relatively unscathed.

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