Champagne against Shampanskoe. French champagne producers are preparing to resume their supplies under new labeling rules for alcoholic products


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A recent measure affecting the trade of champagne in Russia adopted on 02 July 2021 as an amendment to the “Law on State Regulation of the Production and Circulation of Ethyl Alcohol, Alcohol and Products Containing Alcohol ‘alcohol and on the limitation of the consumption of alcoholic products “(Federal Law no. 171-FZ of 22 November 1995 – The” Law on Alcoholic Products “, or” Law “) was the source of intense discussion and deserves to be pointed out.

Let’s put the problem in perspective to begin with.

The version of the Law previously in force listed “sparkling wine (champagne)»In the list of products defined as alcoholic products and falling within its scope. The amendment changed this wording to “sparkling wine, including Russian champagne”. All provisions concerning this product have been amended accordingly, by replacing “sparkling wine (champagne)” with “sparkling wine”.

As a result, the product commonly known as champagne is only mentioned in the Law as a type of sparkling wine ”russian champagne”. This seems to mean that all sparkling wines in all administrative and other documents falling within the scope of the law, including customs, marketing, sales and delivery documents, will have to be named and labeled as sparkling wines. . The same product made in Russia can be called and labeled “Российское шампанское” (Russian champagne). This provision concerns the name of the product in Russian language only and does not say anything about labeling in other languages. Therefore, still according to current interpretations, products produced outside Russia will also have to be named in all documents such as sparkling wine, not champagne.

Industry sources explained that the amendment, which entered into force on July 6, 2021, makes it impossible to import champagne from France, due to the non-compliance of the accompanying documents and product labels with the new provisions. In addition, French companies should obtain new Russian certificates for their product (declaration of conformity to quality requirements) such as “sparkling wine” instead of “Champagne“And replace the old Russian language labels on the back of the bottle with new ones mentioning the name of the product as”sparkling wine”.

The certification process generally takes around 2 months. Leading French brand Moët Hennessy recently announced in the Russian press that the importation of champagne into Russia, which had been suspended, would resume in the second half of September 2021.

According to information provided by the Federal Alcohol Market Regulatory Service (Rosalcoholregulirovanie), in cases where the physical, chemical and other characteristics of the product do not change and still comply with the applicable technical requirements, the certificate (declaration of conformity) can be issued under a simplified procedure just to change the name of the product, but without the need to do new tests (https://fsrar.gov.ru/voprosy-i-otvety/o_nekotoryh_voprosah_primenenija_polozhenij_federalnogo_zakona_ot_2_ijul345_2021_g).

However, this unexpected measure presents certain legal problems which are not an obvious solution.

The Russian Federation is not a party to the “Lisbon Agreement for the Protection of Appellations of Origin and their International Registration of October 31, 1958” and to the Geneva Act of the Lisbon Agreement on Appellations of origin and geographical indications and does not provide automatic protection for appellations of origin registered outside Russia, for example “Champagne” Where “Cognac”. The relevant European regulations restricting the use of these designations of origin only to the product manufactured in the region of France concerned[1] and are not applicable in Russia.

The same issue was raised in high-level discussions preceding and following the Russian Federation’s accession to the World Trade Organization in 2012. At the time, Russian authorities argued that the use of the word Russian “шампанское” in Cyrillic characters see with the designation of origin or the geographical indication “Champagne», Since the Russian word designates the name of a type of wine traditionally produced in the territory of the Russian Federation. It has also been argued that the name “российское шампанское” can be used only in Russia and does not affect the protection and use of “Champagne”Denomination of origin in other countries.

Interestingly, Mr. Titov, the chairman of the “Abrau-Durso” group, which is one of the leading sparkling wine producers in Russia, informed the Russian press that they are not lobbying for the amendment and are not did not support the existence of a “Champagne.” Mr. Titov declared himself satisfied with the principle according to which the champagne is the product originating in the region concerned in France, and that the respect of the foreign designations of origin must be shown and expected in return (see at https://www.rbc.ru / business / 08/07/2021 / 60e403759a79478154c2b3e7). A representative of another Russian wine producer also remarked that he intends to take advantage of his own reputation, without abusing the reputation and image of others.

It should also be noted that the new rules on alcoholic products do not affect existing trademarks registered in Russia and consisting of the word “ChampagneOr the potential registration of new such marks. The requirements and procedures for registration and maintenance of the mark are governed only by Part 4 of the Civil Code of the Russian Federation, while the restrictions on the denomination of the product in customs, sales and delivery documents like “шампанское” (Champagne in Russian) do not cover the use of the word champagne in trademarks or other intellectual property rights.

Currently, there are a large number of trademarks owned by French companies which are protected in Russia as international registrations and contain the word “Champagne”, And very few brands containing the word“ шампанское ”. In addition, the Russian equivalent word is still excluded from protection as a trademark.

On the other hand, champagne has never been registered as an appellation of origin (AO) in Russia, as this requires documented proof of the characteristics which must be provided by the competent Russian authorities, which is not of course not possible for products made outside of Russia. .

As we previously reported (see article “Geographical indications soon to be registered in Russia” at https://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=8109ae63-17b1-4a16-88ed-3725daea1cf4), in 2020 the Russian Federation introduces a new intellectual property right called Geographical Indication (GI). According to Article 1516 of the Civil Code of the Russian Federation, a GI is a sign identifying products originating in a certain territory, the characteristics of which, including their quality or reputation, are to a large extent linked to the territory of ‘origin. The registration requirements for GIs are less stringent and extensive than those for AOs, and it might be possible for “Champagne”To obtain protection in Russia as a GI in the future.

Overall, it seems pretty clear that the main (front) label of a champagne bottle may still contain the word “”ChampagneAnd this should not conflict with the new rules, so that Russian consumers always see the name of French champagne and are not misled by its absence. The back-label in Russian language should define the product according to technical rules as sparkling wine instead, and not as “шампанское” (champagne).

The recently introduced amendment to the law, which we briefly discussed, is probably an indicator that the Russian Federation is not yet ready to completely abandon the tradition of the former Soviet Union of calling Russian sparkling wines ” шампанское ”, and wishes to keep the use of the Russian equivalent of the French appellation of origin at least for some time to come. Meanwhile, intellectual property law and regulatory law, as is often the case, do not talk to each other and confuse producers and consumers alike.

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