Tapas bars in Spain could put cork in France’s Champagne name challenge

Tapas bars in Spain could put cork in France's Champagne name challenge
Photo: Alexander Gamanyuk / Unsplash
Tapas bars in Barcelona called 'champanillos' could see off a legal challenge from France's Champagne region if the European Court of Justice follows a legal opinion published on Thursday.

The industry body representing champagne makers in France has complained the Spanish bars infringe on their designation protected under EU law by using a name derived from, and similar to, “Champagne”.

But the court’s advocate general said that, while the EU law is meant to prevent protected designation of origin (PDO) products from “all parasitic commercial practices”, including services, in this case the word ‘champanillo’ “does not constitute ‘use’ within the meaning of that regulation, of the PDO ‘Champagne'”.

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Champanillo is derived from the Spanish word for champagne, “champán”, with the diminutive at the end making a word meaning “little champagne”.

The advocate general’s opinion added a caveat that, if a sign outside a champanillo or an ad featured a link to champagne, for example with images of champagne glasses, then that may tip the scales towards an infringement of the protected Champagne name.

Such opinions from the advocate general are considered by the court, though it is not bound to follow them.


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