The ‘Champanillo’ ruling marks a turning point in the protection of appellations

Tuesday September 21 2021 by Vitisphere

'From now on, there can be no doubt – appellations are protected in relation to trademarks and more generally to marks used to designate services, but also products, other than those for which the relevant appellation is registered' says professor Théodore Georgopoulos.'From now on, there can be no doubt – appellations are protected in relation to trademarks and more generally to marks used to designate services, but also products, other than those for which the relevant appellation is registered' says professor Théodore Georgopoulos. - Photo credit : Université de Reims
Professor Théodore Georgopoulos reviews the consequences of the 9 September 2021 judgment by the Court of Justice of the European Union for the brand name ‘Champanillo’.

Not a minute too soon! After last summer’s economic/diplomatic ‘thriller’ caused by Russia's decision to reserve the ‘champanskoïe’ designation for Russian sparkling wines, the Champagne wine industry was in need of some good news from the European Court in Luxembourg. The ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) in the ‘Champanillo’ case (C-783/19), issued on 9 September, is what French lawyers call a ‘major judgment’.

From now on, there can be no doubt – appellations are protected in relation to trademarks and more generally to marks used to designate services, but also products, other than those for which the relevant appellation is registered. In this particular case, a Spanish company owning tapas bars in Spain was using the ‘CHAMPANILLO’ fascia (meaning ‘small champagne’) to designate and promote its bars. The contentious name was also associated with a logo depicting two clinking glasses.

By ruling that EU law (Art. 103 § 2 of Reg. 1308/2013) protects PDOs/PGIs against such conduct, the CJEU aligns with French case law, which has consistently ruled in favour of protecting designations of origin in the event of infringement by marks used for non-similar products, including perfumes and cigarettes.

Going forward, the highest jurisdiction has ruled that the scope of protection guaranteed for Champagne against attempts at allusion and reputation free-riding has been widened and extends beyond the narrow circle of sparkling wines, or even wine products.

 

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