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Champagne only comes from Champagne, France
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Terroir & appellation

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Protection of the Champagne appellation

Champagne has been fighting to protect its name since it first became recognized as an appellation. Today, it is a global force to be reckoned with.

Key dates

1843
Champagne producers join forces to defend their common heritage, successfully suing producers of sparkling wines for passing off their products as Champagne.

1908
Adoption of national and international provisions on protection; granting of formal recognition to the first ‘appellations d'origine’, which include Champagne.

1941
Founding of the Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne (Comité Champagne). With the backing of the INAO (Institut National de l'Origine et de la Qualité), the CIVC becomes responsible for defending the Champagne appellation. Its first priority is to prevent misuse of the name Champagne to describe sparkling wines, whether fakes being passed off as Champagne, or sparkling wines from other regions that use the name Champagne as a generic term (eg American Champagne).

1984
The Comité Champagne lobbies to extend unfair use of the name Champagne to any product or service that trades off and damages the AOC’s reputation. This ‘additional’ level of protection is approved by the French justice system before being written into French law.

2013
The Champagne appellation’s right to protection against acts of unfair competition, by any product or service whatsoever, is now established and recognized throughout the European Union and in many other countries, extending to South Korea and Columbia, for instance.

2015
Canada , Ecuador , Vietnam and Haiti among the 115 countries where the Champagne appellation is protected.

Extending AOC protection beyond the wines and spirits trad

The name Champagne is so famous that unfair use is not confined to the wines and spirits trade: witness the “Champagne” cigarette marketed by the SEITA. It was finally withdrawn after a three-year long battle by the CIVC that helped the INAO to pass vital legislation on 2 July 1990 protecting an AOC’s reputation.

According to the Law of 2 July 1990:


A geographical name or any other reference denoting an Appellation d’Origine shall not be used in connection with any similar product or any product whatsoever where such use is likely to misappropriate or weaken the reputation of an Appellation d’Origine.

In virtue of this law, the Comité Champagne and the INAO won their case against Yves Saint Laurent following the company’s multinational launch of a perfume called “Champagne”. One of the outcomes of the case was a ruling by the Paris Court of Appeal in 1993 confirming that use of the Champagne name was exclusively reserved for wines originating and produced in Champagne.

Flurry of international agreements

Under pressure from the Comité Champagne and INAO, also with strong support from the EU, numerous agreements for the reciprocal protection of names between countries are already in place. The challenge today is to negotiate multilateral protection agreements between all the Member States of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

Principal multilateral agreements:

  • 1891 Madrid Protocol (original Protocol member countries: Brazil, Spain, France, Portugal, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Tunisia) .
  • 1958  Lisbon Protocol: originally 16 Protocol member countries
  • 1994 Provisions of the Marrakech agreement (including TRIPS - Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property): 162 Member States of the WTO today.

Under pressure from the Comité Champagne and INAO, also with strong support from the EU, numerous agreements for the reciprocal protection of names between countries are already in place. The challenge today is to negotiate multilateral protection agreements between all the Member States of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

Interprofession

The Comité Champagne

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