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IP Information & News

04 January 2018

Does the Aldi ‘Champagne’ decision affect Protected Designations of Origins?


By: Sarah Atkinson

German Supermarket chain Aldi is celebrating after the recent European Court of Justice decision that it may continue to use the name CHAMPAGNER SORBET in relation to a frozen dessert.

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This case has been ongoing now for five years. Aldi began selling its CHAMPAGNER SORBET in stores throughout Germany in December 2012. The group Comité Interprofessionnel du vin de Champagne (CIVC) requested an injunction from the courts in Germany to stop the sale of the desserts, claiming that Aldi was “free-riding on the quality of the real thing”.

The German court referred the matter to the Court of Justice of the European Union to clarify the position regarding the commercial use of protected designations of origin (PDO), the right on which the CIVC relied.

It was decided that:

“A sorbet may be sold under the name Champagne sorbet if it has, as one of its essential characteristics, a taste attributable primarily to Champagne. If that is the case, that product name does not take undue advantage of the protected designation of origin ‘Champagne’”.

Whilst the overall decision has been left to the court in Germany, it would seem to be the case that if the sorbet really tastes like Champagne then it may be called a Champagne sorbet.

The objections were brought by the CIVC as Aldi’s Champagne sorbet only contained 12% of the famed ingredient.  However, the court said that the quantity of the ingredient is a “significant but not, in itself, sufficient factor”.

What is a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO)?

Ultimately, a PDO protects the reputation of a regional product. To obtain protection for your product under a PDO, it must be produced, processed and prepared in an area and, have distinct characteristics from this area.

Examples of other products protected by a PDO include Cava, Rioja, Stilton, Parmesan and the Melton Mowbray pork pie.

Who can Apply for PDO Status?

Under EU law an individual producer or a collective group of producers from a certain area may group together and apply. There are many criteria that need to be met when applying for a PDO in order to be successful.

If you would like to discuss this further and the benefits of obtaining such protection, please contact Sarah Atkinson in our trade marks team.