Aldi Süd, the giant discount supermarket chain from Germany, Wednesday won a decisive legal victory against France’s powerful winemakers that will allow it to continue to sell branded Champagne sorbets, despite an EU protection of the name.
The European Court of Justice ruled Aldi could continue calling its product ‘Champagner Sorbet’ as it does not unfairly take advantage of the reputation that Champagne producers gain from using the iconic name. The use of the word Champagne is protected under the EU’s geographical indications system, which is intended to ensure that premium European brands are not undercut by rivals and cheaper imitations.
The ECJ said the sorbet, which Aldi began selling in late 2012, was not misleading because the product does have a substantial 12 percent Champagne content.
“Use of the name ‘Champagner Sorbet’ does not take undue advantage (and therefore does not exploit the reputation) of the Protected Designation of Origin ‘Champagne’ if the product concerned has, as one of its essential characteristics, a taste that is primarily attributable to Champagne,” the ECJ said in its decision.
The case was brought againt Aldi by France’s Champagne lobby — the Comité interprofessionnel du vin de Champagne — which argued that Aldi’s branding reminded consumers too heavily of the sparkling wine.
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