Wine producers will be aware that on 1 December 2008, Australia
and the European Community (EC) signed the Australia
– European Community Agreement on Trade in Wine
(Wine Agreement). It is envisaged that the Wine
Agreement will make it easier for Australian wine producers to
export their product to Europe (worth $1.04 billion in
To give legal effect to the Wine Agreement, the Federal
Government needs to amend the Australian Wine and Brandy
Corporation Act 1980 and the Trade Marks Act 1995.
Winemakers should note that this is likely to happen in May 2010,
and are advised to prepare for the changes that will follow.
What the Wine Agreement does
Protection of 112 Australian geographical indicators (GI) (eg:
Hunter, Yarra Valley).
Recognition of 44 specific Australian wine making practices
(eg: the use of oak chips to add flavour).
Relaxation of the EC rules about wine labelling to allow the
inclusion of additional information required in Australia (eg: the
number of standard drinks in a bottle of wine).
Protection of 2,500 EC GI (eg: Sauternes, Hermitage) and other
traditional expressions (TE) (eg: Château, Claret) used in EC
wine naming practice.
Phasing out the use of EC GI such as 'Burgundy',
'Champagne', 'Moselle', 'Sherry' and
'Port' by Australian wine producers within 12 months of the
Wine Agreement coming into force.
The Wine Agreement will establish a joint committee of EC and
Australian representatives with the power to recommend changes to
the Wine Agreement and resolve disputes.
Trade mark issues
Although not yet part of Australian law, winemakers in this
country need to think about how the Wine Agreement might affect
their business practises. For instance, from 1 December 2008, an
Australian wine producer is unable to register a trade mark or
business name which contains or consists of:
an EC TE to describe a wine, or
an EC GI if the wine does not originate in the relevant EC
These prohibitions do not apply to trade marks or business names
legally registered in good faith in Australia before the Wine
Agreement was signed. Despite this, the owner of a registered trade
mark or business name must not use the mark or name in a way that
might mislead a consumer.
1 This figure is comprised of amounts exported to: UK
($723.2 m); Germany ($51.2 m); Netherlands ($57.4 m); Denmark
($43.4 m); Ireland ($46.4 m); Belgium ($24.7 m); Sweden ($40.0 m);
France ($11.3 m); Finland ($17.2 m); Norway ($12.2 m); and
Switzerland ($14.9 m). This information is sourced from: Australian
Wine and Brandy Corporation (34 KB pdf).
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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