“Champagne” not a trademark for a UDRP action

Posted On September 6, 2011
In Domain Names / Reply

The owners of the wine geographical indication “Champagne” failed in an action under the UDRP to win the domain name “champagne.co”. Although the WIPO panellist recognised that the Complainant had rights under French law to “champagne” as an appellation of origin, these rights did not equate to rights in a “trademark” for the purposes of founding an action under the UDRP. In a detailed decision, the panellist explained that the geographical indication “Champagne” does not, per se, distinguish the wine of one champagne producer from the wine of another, and so does not fulfil the fundamental function of a trademark. Furthermore, the drafting history of the UDRP shows that the framers of the Policy did not intend it to apply to geographical indications per se. This position is different from that which pertains under the dispute resolution policies for the ccTLDs .uk, .fr and .be.

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