As for any trademarks, wine trademarks must comply with Trademark regulations but because of a long-lasting wine tradition in France, specific regulations are also in effect for wines.
To be registered as a trademark, the sign must be:
- Lawful: not in conflict with public policy
- Not deceptive.
More specifically for wine products certain terms cannot be freely adopted unless they fulfil specific criteria.
Firstly, it is not possible to register an “appellation d’origine protégée” (Protected designation of origin) as a trademark. An AOP is a guarantee to the public that wines with this designation have specific qualities due to their geographic origin.
Designations such as Alsace, Jura, Bordeaux, Beaujolai, Lorraine and Rhône … are protected.
Even if a wine is legitimately granted an AOP certification, its producer can register this AOP as a wine trademark. Nevertheless, for wines granted AOP certification, it is possible to register a trademark containing part of this same appellation, insofar as they included one or more distinctive signs.
Secondly, to avoid misleading consumers on the origin and the quality of wine, a regulation of 1949, provides the necessary guidelines for the use of terms such as “château”, “clos”, “domaine“, “moulin”, “tour”, “cote”, “cru”, or similar terms for wines to be certified “appellation d’origine controllée” (Controlled designation of origin). This was derived based on wine-growing criteria.
Hence, in order to apply for a wine trademark with such terms the wine must:
- Be certified AOC
- Derived from an existing wine-growing location: the vineyard whose name is defined as a designation of wine origin must have a really exist
- The French court has added the condition of a cultural autonomy of the wine-growers. This means that a wine is made exclusively from grapes harvested in vineyards belonging to the wine grower and the winemaking has been carried out in the same location.
If a wine trademark application does not comply with these rules, its nullity may be requested.
I shall, be delighted to provide you any additional explanation that you may require.
This post is also available in: French