With the closing stages of the negotiations between Australia and the EU over the proposed free trade agreement almost upon us, the EU has proposed a list of 55 further wine geographical indications it wants to protect. Amongst others, the list includes “prosecco” and “vittoria”. The Department of Agriculture is holding a Public Objections Process to assess the impact of accepting these names.
There are four grounds for potential objection (and only four):
- The EU GI name is used in Australia as the common name for the relevant good, including as a type or style of wine.
- The EU GI name is used in Australia as the name of a grape variety, plant variety or an animal breed.
- The EU GI name is identical to, or likely to cause confusion with, a trade mark that is registered in Australia or the subject of a pending application made in good faith in Australia. Confusion may be likely where a trade mark consists of, or contains, the EU GI name or something so nearly resembling it.
- The EU GI name is identical to, or likely to cause confusion with, an unregistered trade mark that has acquired rights through use in good faith in Australia. Confusion may be likely where a trade mark consists of, or contains, the EU GI name or something so nearly resembling it.
You can see what the problem is with a name like “prosecco” as there are lots of Australian producers of wines under that name, all the more so when the grape variety formerly known (or thought to be known) as prosecco was renamed in 2009 by an Italian government decree as “glera”.
I also wonder about “Vittoria”, especially if the EU is pressing for protection not just against use of the name itself but terms and expressions which “evoke” that. There are, afterall, lots of wines which are made in a place called “Victoria”.
Whether Australia agrees to these names or not, Australian producers using these names are effectively giving up the potential to sell in the EU (unless they go to the trouble and expense of different labelling).
The consultation process has been running since late March and closes at 12 NOON AEST Friday 21 APRIL 2023. If you want to lodge an objection (good luck!), you must make your submission via here. Be warned: this is a “hard” deadline; finalisation of the deal is that close.
If you are feeling a little bit like “deja vu”; you’re right, there was a whole round of consultations about a much more extensive range of names two years ago.