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‘Champ’ not just for ‘Champagne’, authorities say

An Essex brewer has successfully defended the right to name his beer ‘Champale’ after a two-year trademark dispute with the Comité Champagne (CIVC).

Roger Barber, owner of Mersea Island Vineyard, has defended his right to use the trademark for Champale beer following a two-year dispute with the CIVC (Photo: Mersea Island Vineyard)
Roger Barber, owner of Mersea Island Vineyard, has defended his right to use the trademark for Champale beer following a two-year dispute with the CIVC (Photo: Mersea Island Vineyard)

The beer, which is made using “Champagne-style yeast” and is sold in sparkling wine-style bottles with a traditional wired cork – has been made by Mersea Island Brewery in Essex.

Brewery owner Roger Barber – who also owns Mersea Island Vineyard nextdoor with his wife, Jackie – submitted a trademark request for Champale to the UK trademark authorities two years ago.

Almost as soon as the request was submitted, Barber received a letter form the CIVC informing him that there would be “serious and costly legal consequences” should the name be used.

The CIVC said that ‘champ’ was a familiar term for Champagne, according to The Telegraph. However Barber argued that in England ‘champ’ was short for ‘champion’.

The trademark authorities upheld Barber’s argument and decided that Champagne had no special claim to the word ‘champ’.

“We put in the trademark request but got a letter from the French almost immediately telling us that we could not use the name and if we did, there would be serious and costly legal consequences,” Barber told the Telegraph.

“But we weren’t about to give in so we argued our case and eventually won.

“We bottled the first champale in 2013 so it now has the right bottle age and is ready to be sold – and drunk.”

Mersea Island Brewery has produced an initial 2,000 bottles of Champale, which will sell at £16 each. The beer went on sale last week.

The story is the latest in a string of trademark disputes involving the CIVC.

Last month the drinks business revealed how the comité had failed in its court bid to prevent a Spanish children’s drinks brand using the name Champín.

The case went all the way to Spanish Supreme Court, but judges rejected the case saying the fruit-flavoured drink was “unconnected” with Champagne.

In October 2015 db reported on the comité’s legal challenge against wine communicator Jayne Powell, also known as Champagne Jayne.

The CIVC originally took Powell to court in December 2014 claiming that she had misled the public and infringed on its trademark by promoting sparkling wines other than Champagne while using the ‘Champagne Jayne’ name. This had “damaged the goodwill of the Champagne sector”, the CIVC claimed.

However a court in Melbourne, Australia, dismissed the claim and Jayne Powell was allowed to continue using her Champagne Jayne Moniker.

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