EU court cheers Champagne makers with protection ruling against Spanish 'champanillo'

EU court cheers Champagne makers with protection ruling against Spanish ‘champanillo’

The EU’s top court on Thursday boosted Champagne makers in their fight to get Spanish tapas bars to drop the term “champanillo” by reenforcing legal protections on products from specific regions.

The Luxembourg-based Court of Justice ruled that the bloc’s so-called “protective designation of origins” rules extend to “both products and services”.

“The regulation thus establishes wide-ranging protection which is intended to extend to all uses which take advantage of the reputation enjoyed by products covered by one of those indications,” it said.

The decision comes after French Champagne producers launched legal action against a tapas bar chain in Spain that was using the term “Champanillo” — Spanish for “little champagne”.

The makers of the famed sparkling wine argued the use of the word breached its protected status and aimed to profit from Champagne’s global reputation.

“This is an excellent decision,” Marie-Anne Genand, legal director at the Interprofessional Committee of Champagne Wine (CIVC), told AFP.

The powerful CIVC association, which groups the famed eastern French region’s 16,200 growers and 360 brands, tracks anyone in the world seen as hijacking the Champagne name and was behind the challenge against the tapas bars.

The case will now go back to the Spanish court in Barcelona for a final judgement.

“Of course, it is up to the Spanish judge to decide whether indeed the word ‘champanillo’ is an attack on our name”, Genand said. © Agence France-Presse

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