An unusual Trademark dispute has hit the headlines as Champagne's trade body Comité Interprofessional du Vin de Champagne (CIVC) has brought legal action against Australian wine presenter and writer Rachel Jayne Powell aka 'Champagne Jayne'.
CIVC claims that Champagne Jayne has lessened the distinctiveness of Champagne and the goodwill in its name by discussing sparkling wines made outside of Champagne in her articles and presentations - often alongside Champagne.
But wine aficionados such as Guy Woodward, Harpers columnist and former editor of Decanter have attacked CIVC for its stance. Mr Woodward has accused CIVC of revealing a nasty and vindictive side.
In what appears to be a classic case of a David versus Goliath battle, it will be interesting to see who wins in the view of the consumer. The story has gone global and attracted the kind of negative headlines that most brands actively seek to avoid.
My hunch is that this case will settle, but by then who knows how much damage will have been done to CIVC's reputation?
“Astonishingly the Comité Champagne had claimed that Powell’s actions ‘damage the reputation and goodwill that the name Champagne has for some members of the public’. It should be obvious by now that the only one ‘damaging’ Champagne’s reputation here is the Comité Champagne itself. As for goodwill, how much goodwill has Powell engendered for the region over her decade’s work? And consider the upshot if the Comité Champagne is successful. A staunch supporter of Champagne forced to rebrand herself – as ‘Sparkling Jayne’, perhaps, thereby emphasising the very variety of sparkling wines that the Champenois seek to suppress.”