Australia’s national association of grape and wine producers has expressed its disappointment after learning its opposition to Italy’s effort to register Prosecco as a geographic indication (GI) has been dismissed, but says the battle is not over.
Italy’s Consorzio di Tutela della Denominazione di Origine Controllata Prosecco sought to register Prosecco as a GI with the Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) of Singapore for wines originating from certain areas of the country.
Australian Grape and Wine (AGW) opposed the application on two grounds under Singapore’s Geographical Indications Act (GIA): that Prosecco is the name of a plant variety and is likely to mislead consumers as to the true origin of the product, and that Prosecco does not meet the definition of a GI in the Act.
AGW chief executive Tony Battaglene said that while the determination by the SIPO Registrar was disappointing, there were a number of factors that “remain to be determined” as part of the outcome. First, the process was yet to be finalised, Battaglene said.
“As is afforded to us under the legislation, we have formally sought the full grounds of the decision from SIPO,” he said.
“Once this is provided, we will also have the right to appeal the decision if we determine it is warranted. Furthermore, the registrar’s determination found ‘that ‘Prosecco’ is the name of a grape variety’, a fact that we continue to prove time and again across the world in an effort to protect our producers’ rights to continue to legitimately label grape varieties.
“Where these conflicts exist, and there are many, GI rights or indeed any rights, should not trump the legitimate rights to use the name of a grape variety on a label. This is the key point here.”
Battaglene said the SIPO Registrar’s determination concluded by acknowledging that it made no finding as to whether grapegrowers and winemakers in Australia can continue to use ‘Prosecco’ on their wines.
Battaglene said this meant the decision currently made “no difference to the legitimate use of the Prosecco grape variety on Australian wine labels in Singapore or anywhere else”.
“The decision only extends the ambiguity and confusion that is being created by the European Union’s (EU’s) efforts to force its GI regimes on other counties,” he said.
“It is yet another example of the EU continuing to exert its influence over countries in an attempt to distort trade in its favour. We are fighting this uphill battle against the deep pockets of the EU and its well subsidised regions to uphold the rights of smaller players like Australian wine producers and ensure they are afforded a level trading environment on which to compete where their rights are as important as the bigger trading nations.
“We respect and understand the value of geographic indications, as we have for many years with our own GIs, without conflict. We cannot, however, stand by while the legitimacy of GIs is used as a tool for restricting trade, removing our rights to use common grape varieties and we will continue to oppose such efforts globally.”
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