SINGAPORE APPEAL COURT RULES THAT ITALY CAN REGISTER PROSECCO FOR G.I. PROTECTION
By Siulan Law Mathews DipWSET
Source: Prosecco DOC Consortium
Singapore’s Court of Appeal last week cleared the way for Italy’s Prosecco DOC Consortium to register “Prosecco” for geographical indication (G.I.) protection in Singapore, overturning an earlier High Court decision which ruled that “Prosecco” is the name of a grape variety as suggested by Australian Grape and Wine Incorporated (AGWI).
This is the first time for Singapore’s Court of Appeal to rule on a case concerning G.I. registration.
A five-judged court ruled last Wednesday that while the AGWI could demonstrate that “Prosecco” was the name of a grape variety, it failed to show that the proposed G.I. is likely to mislead Singapore consumers as to the true origin of the wine.
The highest court considered evidence, including a 2007 catalogue of vine nurseries, that “Prosecco” was officially recognised in the European Union as the name of a vine or grape variety, before it was renamed on 1 Aug 2009 to “Glera”.
However, the court said the evidence presented by AGWI failed to establish that Singapore consumers will likely be misled by the proposed Prosecco G.I.
Italy’s Prosecco DOC Consortium applied to the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore in May 2019 to register “Prosecco” as a G.I. in the city state.
In September the same year, AGWI filed a notice to oppose the registration.
AGWI argued that “Prosecco” is the name of a grape variety and therefore consumers were likely to be misled about the true origin of the wine if the term is allowed to be registered as an Italian G.I.
AGWI’s opposition was dismissed by a principal assistant registrar, who said the likelihood of consumers being misled was small in view of the popularity, reputation and renown of Italian Prosecco wines.
She noted that the Italian wines have been sold in Singapore since 2011, with 387,100 litres sold in 2018 alone, while the Australian wines were introduced into the market here in 2015, with 9,657 litres sold in 2018.
The Australian body appealed to the High Court, which allowed the opposition in 2022 after ruling that the proposed G.I. objectively contained the name of a grape variety.
The High Court judge reasoned that the proposed G.I. was likely to mislead consumers if “Prosecco” grapes and “Prosecco” wines had been cultivated or produced in significant quantities outside the specified region in Italy.
The Italian consortium then took the case to the Court of Appeal which came up with the final verdict that the Prosecco Consortium should be allowed to register G.I. protection in Singapore.
(the writer can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org)
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