France commune

Champagne wins the fight against the name of the Swiss municipality of Champagne

Champagne producers have won a 20-year legal battle to prevent the Swiss village of Champagne from selling labeled wine wine from the commune of Champagne – but say they have about 1,000 other name protection legal cases pending.

The village, with a population of 1048 and 28 hectares of vines, produces a typical Swiss still white wine. He had even recorded a Controlled Designation of Origin for her, which is a French standard to guarantee quality.

But the constitutional court of the Swiss canton has ruled that it must stop mentioning champagne on its wine labels after a legal action brought by the Champagne Committee, the French professional body bringing together wine growers, traders, and the Champagne houses.

When asked if using the tribunal was a bit of a case of using a hammer to crack a peanut, Charles Goemaere, the CEO of the Champagne Committee, said The connection that it was necessary to protect the livelihoods of the 20,000 winegrowers and other workers who made the famous French sparkling wine.

“We are very proud of our wine and know how important it is for people around the world to know that if they are buying a bottle of champagne, they know they are buying a high quality product that is made according to rules and procedures. strict.

“If we let anyone use the Champagne name, there is a risk that buyers will be disappointed with poor quality products.”

Mr. Goemaere, who before taking up his current position was an intellectual property lawyer, said the Champagne Committee was determined to prosecute the usurpers of their names.

“At any given time, we have around 1,000 legal cases around the world to protect our name,” he said.

“Many are resolved quickly with a letter or two, but some drag on for centuries, like this one in Switzerland.”

He said the village of Champagne had used the case to raise awareness since the 2000 agreement when Switzerland opened its borders to the European Union.

“Most cases are resolved within a much shorter time frame,” he said.

“But there is a saying among lawyers that the bigger the name, the more sensitive it is to people trying to cling to its coat, and Champagne is very sensitive and responsive in protecting its name.”

The only exception, which can be a puzzle to some people, is the use by Cognac makers of the terms Grande Champagne, Petite Champagne or Grande Fine Champagne to denote the regions of the Cognac growing area.

The use of the terms is believed to have come from the similarity between the region’s highly calcareous soils with the soil of the Champagne wine region.

“The use of Grande Champagne, Grande Fine Champagne or Petite Champagne has historical roots and protection of the name associated with Cognac, and goes back to the protection of the wine name of Champagne,” Mr. Goemaere said. .

“There are also important rules such that the Champagne mention must always be associated with the Cognac name on the same label and in small print,” he said.

“And of course, cognac is a spirit and not a wine and is as committed to protecting its quality and preventing people from usurping its name as we are.”

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