Rachel ‘Champagne Jayne’ Powell’s passion for Champagne has helped her to become an award-winning wine expert, broadcaster, journalist and presenter. However, Ms. Powell’s ‘Champagne Jayne’ brand has put her at loggerheads with the trade organisation established to manage the common interests of the growers and the Champagne Houses behind the drink she loves so much.
The Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne (Comité Champagne) represents the parties involved in the production, distribution and promotion of Champagne. Its mandate is to protect the reputation and heritage of the unique product originating out of France’s Champagne region and to prevent the unauthorised use of the Champagne name which guarantees consumers both origin and quality.
The Comité Champagne has challenged Ms. Powell’s right to operate under the name ‘Champagne Jayne’ on two fronts in Australia. The first is by opposing her trade mark application for ‘Champagne Jayne’ which covers a variety of entertainment services and the second is by filing a proceeding in the Federal Court of Australia alleging that Ms. Powell has engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct. Both of these matters are currently awaiting hearing with the Federal Court proceeding listed for trial in mid-December 2014.
We expect that fans of a bit of ‘bubbly’, those in the wine trade and brand owners alike will be watching the outcome of the wider dispute closely, as it promises to be an important lesson in the kind of ‘freedom to operate’ searches that a trader or business should undertake before launching a brand. This is especially the case where a trader adopts a well known trade mark as part of a new trade mark providing goods or services that have a connection to the original trade mark. While ‘Champagne Jayne’ might have considered the use of the word ‘Champagne’ to be wholly descriptive and, therefore, free to use, Comité Champagne considers that the enhancement and protection of the Champagne appellation to be one of its highest priorities.
We hope to provide an update on this matter once it is decided who will be popping the corks off the bottles of Champagne in celebration!