WINES AND SPIRITS: IP PROTECTION

Introduction

The wine and spirits business is one of the most profitable in the world. The worldwide luxury wine and spirits business was estimated to be worth $970 billion in 2019[1]. Furthermore, by 2027, the sector is expected to be worth $1,411 billion[2]. Typically, alcoholic beverages are prized for the region from whence they come. This is because various places have distinct meteorological patterns and manufacturing procedures that make the production of certain alcoholic beverages easier.[3] Also, IPR makes the owner a king of wines and spirits if given this privilege, this industry would become more organised and the economic channel would be more smooth and fuss-free.

GI: Prime IPR for Wine and Spirit

Several items we encounter in our daily lives, such as Darjeeling tea, Scotch Whisky, and Swiss Gruyere cheese, are linked to a geographical area that serves as a source of origin, thus authenticating the goods’ authenticity. Geographical Indications (GI) are one of the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) six Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) that provide products registered as GI goods with extensive and reliable protection. A GI tag denotes that the listed goods have unique characteristics due to their origin and that these characteristics will not be seen in other goods in the same group. A GI ensures that the products exceed the end-needs users in terms of cost. A GI safeguards local culture by maintaining traditional manufacturing practices, consumption patterns, and ethnic identity. GIs foster economic growth by increasing exports by letting buyers know that products with GI tags come from a region where a certain quality, prestige, or other attributes of the goods is due to their geographic origin. The World Trade Organization Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights governs the protection that wines and spirits have. While Geographical Indications are protected under Article 22 of the TRIPS Agreement[4], wines and spirits are given an extra layer of protection under Article 23[5]. “Indications that mark a good as originating in the territory of a Member, or an area or locality within that territory, where a given consistency, prestige, or other attributes of the good is ultimately due to its geographical origin,” according to Article 22 of the TRIPS Agreements.

Article 22, which establishes a minimum degree of protection for all items, applies to all of them. This states that geographical indicators must be safeguarded to prevent public confusion and unfair competition. Article 23 gives geographical indicators for wines and spirits a greater or increased degree of protection (subject to a few exceptions, they must be safeguarded even if abuse would not lead the public to be deceived). Several countries wish to expand this degree of protection to a variety of other items, such as food and handicrafts. The agreement allows for exceptions such as when a name has become a common (or “generic”) term (for example, “Cheddar” now refers to a particular type of cheese not necessarily made in Cheddar, in the United Kingdom), and when a term has already been registered as a trademark (for example, “Parma” in Italy is a type of ham from the region of the city of Parma, but in Canada it is a registered trademark for ham made by According to information provided by members during a fact-finding exercise, nations use a range of legal mechanisms to protect geographical indications, ranging from particular geographic indicators statutes to trademark law, consumer protection law, and common law.[6]

The alcoholic beverages are covered under the following classes as per Geographical Indications Act in India:

  • Class 32. Beers, mineral and aerated waters, and other non-alcoholic drinks; fruit drinks and fruit juices; syrups and other preparations for making beverages [7]
  • Class 33. Alcoholic beverages (except beers)[8]

There are certain benefits of the claiming of this Intellectual Property as well like:

  • Geographical Indications in India now have legal rights.
  • Prevents anyone from using a Registered Geographical Indication without permission.
  • It gives Indian Geographical Indications legal protection, which boosts exports.
  • It facilitates the economic well-being of producers of products manufactured in a specific geographical area.[9]

The Current Status

Because Champagne is made in the Champagne area of France, only brands located within 100 miles of this region are allowed to use the “Champagne” label. Champagne has been protected as an “appellation of origin” under the Lisbon Agreement since 1967.[11] Several alcoholic drinks have also been called after their origins and are frequently protected as a GI. Tequila, which comes from the Tequila town in Mexico, and Scotch, which comes from Scotland, are two more examples.[12] Several liquor kinds, such as UK’s Scotch Whiskey (2010) and Napa Valley wines of United States of America (2010), have sought to obtain GI tags from India in the previous ten years. Only three Indian liquor kinds have acquired a GI label so far. Furthermore, through the European Commission, about 121 international liquor companies have filed paperwork to India’s GI registration in order to register their liquor types. Peruvian Pisco (2009), an alcoholic beverage from Peru, was one of the first foreign liquors to be listed under the GI registration.[13] “France’s Champagne” (2010),”Cognac of France” (2011), “Porto of Portugal” (2011), “Douro wine of Portugal” (2011), “Tequila of Mexico” (2012), “Presecco of Italy” (2016), and “Irish Whiskey” (2017) are some of the foreign liquor varieties with Geographical Indication (2019). Similarly, “Feni of Goa (2009),” “Nashik Valley wine of Maharashtra (2010),” and “Judima rice wine of Assam” is among the Indian alcoholic drinks bearing Geographical Indication tags.[14]

Conclusion

It’s worth noting that 125 of the 227 applications for registration with the GI Registry office are from wine and alcohol brands from the European Union.[15] As a result, it is clear that the Indian wine market’s enormous potential, which is expanding at a rate of 20-30% per year, is tempting European wine companies.[16] In the long run, granting GI tags to alcoholic beverages would undoubtedly prove to be extremely beneficial for liquor sales and marketing. Furthermore, issuing a GI tag would assist indigenous tribes in preserving age-old liquor manufacturing practices.

Author(s) Name: Preyansi Anand Desai (The Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda, Vadodara)

References:

[1] Raju Kale and Rohan Deshmukh, ‘Luxury Wines and Spirits Market by Type (Wines/Champagnes and Spirits) and Distribution Channel (Wholesale, Retail, E-Commerce, and Others): Global Opportunity Analysis and Industry Forecast, 2020–2027’, <https://www.alliedmarketresearch.com/luxury-wines-and-spirits-market > accessed February 18 2022

[2] Ibid.

[3]Sanjana, ‘Examining the GI Protection of Wines and Spirits’, (IPandLegalFndings), <https://www.ipandlegalfilings.com/examining-the-gi-protection-of-wines-and-spirits/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=examining-the-gi-protection-of-wines-and-spirits>, accessed February 18 2022

[4] Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, 1994, Article 22

[5] Ibid.

[6] Tushar Kanti Saha Nalin Bharti ‘Beyond Wines and Spirits: Developing Countires’ GI Products and their Potential in WTO Regime with special reference to India’ 2006 Volume II 91

[7] Geographical Indication of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999, Schedule 4

[8] Ibid.

[9]Vikaspedia, Geographical Indications, <https://vikaspedia.in/social-welfare/entrepreneurship/geographical-indications> accessed February 17 2022

[10] Sanjana,’Examining the GI Protection of Wines and Spirits’, (IP & LEGAL FILLINGS, 12 OCTOBER 2021) , < https://www.ipandlegalfilings.com/examining-the-gi-protection-of-wines-and-spirits/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=examining-the-gi-protection-of-wines-and-spirits > accessed February 17 2022

[11] Ibid..

[12] Supra (n 10)

[13] Supra ( n 10)

[14] Chadha & Chadha Intellectual Property Law Firm, ‘Wines and Spirits in the Realm of Geographical Indications (gis)’, (Lexology), <https://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=d347b518-f008-4d31-8e9c-f605678460f5>, accessed February 18 2022

[15] Ibid.

[16] Supra ( n 14)

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