The DE BAECQUE BELLEC law firm intervenes regularly in cases involving the law of appellations of origin. It assists its clients in the complexities of defending appellations of origin on an international level, particularly in the vineyard sector. Wine law is a major component of DE BAECQUE BELLEC. Stéphane Bellec is a member of the International Association of Vine and Wine Lawyers (AIDV).

The protection of appellations of origin and wines and spirits is at the heart of the defense of traditional know-how. The turnover of PDOs alone represents nearly 23 billion euros in 2020. DE BAECQUE BELLEC assists appellation owners at all stages of their operations, whether in consulting or litigation. It sets up a surveillance of the actors of the wine and wine-producing market, food or artisanal, in order to detect any infringement of the valuation and the investments made.


Articulation of French and European law

At the European level, protected designations of origin (PDO) and protected geographical indications (PGI) apply to food products (regulation 1151/2012) and wine products (regulation 1308/2013).

At the French level, the “Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée” (AOC) now represent a first step towards the PDO. Indeed, if a product falls within the scope of the European legislation, all parallel national protection must cease, whether the appellation of origin is in fact registered under the regulation or not. It is sufficient that it is eligible for protection under EU law for it to apply to the exclusion of all other legislation.

Each State can adopt stricter rules to preserve the particular characteristics of the wines. The INAO will then refuse to transmit the application for PDO or PGI registration, without however granting autonomous protection.


Protection of protected designations of origin (PDO)

For agri-food products, protection may be granted to the name of a region, a specific place or, in certain exceptional cases, a country, which serves to designate an agricultural product or a foodstuff originating in that place and whose quality or characteristics are due essentially or exclusively to the geographical environment, including natural and human factors. The protected designation of origin is granted if there is a close link between the qualities and other characteristics of the product and the geographical area, as well as the development in this area of all stages of production.

For wine products, the European regulation does not include the requirement of a triple identity of localization of the phases of production, transformation and elaboration. It is therefore possible to market wine produced in the protected area but assembled in another place.


Protection of protected geographical indications (PGI)

The protected geographical indication (PGI) protects the name of a region, a specific place or a country, which serves to designate an agricultural product or a foodstuff originating from that region and whose specific quality, reputation or other characteristic may be attributed to that geographical origin.

For wine products, there are specific requirements regarding the origin and variety of the grapes used. Only the production must take place in the geographical area concerned.

The link between the qualities and characteristics of the product and the geographical area is weaker for PGIs.


Formalities for the protection of PDO / PGI

The DE BAECQUE BELLEC law firm ensures the realization of all the formalities necessary for the protection with the INAO (National Institute of Origin and Quality).  The INAO is competent for all PDO and PGI applications whose geographical area is located on French territory.

The firm assists its clients in the elaboration of the PDO / PGI specifications. These specifications must include:

  • the description of the product and its main characteristics,
  • the delimitation of the geographical area of production,
  • the description of the method of obtaining the product,
  • the elements justifying the link between the place of production and the qualities of the product.

The INAO then sends the specification to the European Commission which proceeds to the publication in the Official Journal of the European Communities (OJEC). This publication opens a 6-month opposition period to any European national. In case of opposition, the States are invited to find an agreement. If there is no opposition, the European Commission registers the name in the Register of PDOs and PGIs.


Defense of PDO / PGI

The DE BAECQUE BELLEC law firm monitors third parties, holders of rights, in particular on trademarks and other distinctive signs, who could damage the reputation of the appellation of origin by their actions.

It defends its customers against any:

  • Direct or indirect commercial use for similar products not covered by the registration, or for different products insofar as such use makes it possible to profit from the reputation of the registered name. The protection is automatic for similar products; for different products, it is subordinated to the proof of a parasitic will.
  • Usurpation, imitation or evocation, even if the true origin of the product is indicated (for example, turon de Perpignan).
  • False or misleading indication as to the provenance, origin, nature or substantial qualities of the product.
  • Other practice likely to mislead the public as to the true origin of the product.

The firm also defends products before the competent jurisdictions. We combine expertise in trademark law with sound advice on the use of products with an appellation of origin. The firm assists each client in the implementation of an adequate protection strategy. It ensures protection of all related interests (copyright, design law, advertising and communication, digital law, etc.).


Contacter Stéphane Bellec

Tél. + 33 (0) 1 53 29 90 00

avocat en droit d'auteur à Paris
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