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Flooring company loses Champagne battle

The Comite Interprofessional du vin de Champagne (CIVC) has won its case against a flooring company that was trying to trademark a range of “caviar and Champagne” products.

Ball & Young was denied the right to trademark its range as “Caviar and Champagne”

Ball & Young Limited, of Corby in the UK, had sought to trademark its Cloud 9 Caviar and Champagne Collection of flooring underlay with the slogan “proudly made in the UK” alongside an image of a Union Jack flag.

However their application to the Register of Trade Marks raised opposition from the CIVC, the body responsible for protecting the integrity of the term Champagne in the interests of producers in the region. The word “Champagne” is a protected designation of origin which is protected under European law.

As reported by the BBC, Allan James, ruling on behalf of the Registrar of Trade Marks, said Ball & Young was seeking to “take advantage” of the Champagne name.

Ball & Young had argued that “Champagne” is also a colour and commonly used in phrases such as “Champagne Charlie” and “Champagne lifestyle”, adding that Champagne producers should not have “a complete monopoly” over the word’s use.

The CIVC argued that the company had deliberately chosen the word Champagne for “opportunistic reasons” and to be associated with the “glamour and image of Champagne”.

While Mr James accepted that it was a “fanciful proposition” to think that anyone would be confused between sparkling wine and flooring products, he said Ball & Young had no right to benefit from the success of Champagne. He concluded the company’s plans “would exploit the reputation of Champagne”.

The CIVC regularly launches battles against company’s keen to use the Champagne named alongside products. Previously it warned tech giant Apple over the introduction of a Champagne iPhone, while wine writer Rachel Jayne Powell is currently fighting a legal case lodged against her by the CIVC over the use of her nickname “Champagne Jayne”.

Last December, the CIVC took Powell to court accusing her of trademark infringement over the use of the word “Champagne” in her name, which it said “damages the goodwill of the Champagne sector”.

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