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Allegrini 2018
BRANDS AND THE LAW

The “Gallo” (black or any other color) belongs exclusively to Chianti Classico, the EU Court ruled

The Berebene srl appeal, which had tried to register a trademark bearing a rooster (in other colors) for a Vermentino, was rejected

The Black Rooster is the historical symbol (and collective brand) of Chianti Classico wine, and cannot be used by individuals for any other wine. The ruling also applies to brands that, besides the color, resemble the symbol. The European Union Court ruling has published its sentence supporting the Chianti Classico Consortium. The EUIPO had pronounced it had blocked the attempt of the company Berebene srl, based in Rome, which Chianti Classico had opposed, to register the Ghisu trademark, in 2017. Berebene srl had appealed to the EU Court, which, however, rejected it. According to the EU Court, the use of the brand in question could create confusion, and provide an “undue advantage from the reputation, prestige and excellence projected” by the symbol historically associated to Tuscan wine.
“The ruling confirms the Consortium's strategy on trademark protection”, Carlotta Gori, the director of the Chianti Classico Consortium, commented to WineNews, “which is the unique symbol of the denomination that we have also protected for years through controlling trademark registration of similar brands that damage our brand and unduly benefit others. And we are all the more proud of and satisfied with our strategy when a European court questioned by a plaintiff, and not by us, testifies to the validity of our reasons. Over the past 15 years, our trademark has prevailed over confusing trademark registration attempts 61 times. Over the years, the rulings and sentences of the European Court and Court of Justice have always taken this direction, and therefore, the trademark offices are now “educated” and recognize our positions and our value”.
The ancient bond between the Black Rooster and the historical territory of Chianti (today Chianti Classico, ed.,) dates back to the end of the 1300s. A black rooster on a gold background was chosen as the emblem of the Lega del Chianti, a military political institution created by the Republic of Florence for the control of the territory. Vasari also depicted the emblem in his Allegory of Chianti, a panel dated 1565 that is in the Salone de Cinquecento in Palazzo Vecchio, in Florence. Furthermore, in 1924, then, the Consortium chose the Black Rooster as the symbol “for the defense of the typical Chianti wine and its brand of origin”, which has now become the Chianti Classico Wine Consortium. And since 2005 it has stood out on every bottle of the appellation. Now, the EU Court has sanctioned that it is for the exclusive use of Chianti Classico producers.
“Hands off made in Italy. Today's decision has acknowledged and protected our excellence and prevented a dangerous attempt to appropriate our historical brands”, commented the Undersecretary for Agricultural Policies, Gian Marco Centinaio. And even though the case is entirely internal, between to two Italian subjects, it is important to point out that “by rejecting the request for registration of a similar trademark”, continued Centinaio, “the Court of the European Union has justly highlighted that the image of excellence and prestige associated with it would have generated an undue advantage in favor of the applicant company. This is a significant precedent that will protect our products in the future, within the European borders. We are, and always will be, at the forefront of combatting phenomena such as Italian sounding and commercial counterfeiting, which cause damages amounting to billions of euros every year to our food industry. Fraud is even more serious now that the wine sector has also been heavily penalized due to the effects of the Pandemic ”, concluded Centinaio.
Coldiretti also joined in the comments, raising the bar: “Stopping fake Chianti is fundamental since imitations of Made in Italy agro-food products have exceeded 100 billion euros in value, during the year of Covid-19, on the global market”. The organization further commented on the ruling, “yet another attempt to pilfer historical national brands that have reached a level of prestige, built on the work of entire generations, has been foiled. The presumption of using the same symbols for completely different products is unacceptable; it is deceiving to consumers and unfair competition against entrepreneurs. It is estimated that more than two out of three Made in Italy agro-food products, worldwide, are fake and have no productive or employment link with our country. “Most of all, it is the emerging or the richest countries that sell fake Italian food”, pointed out Coldiretti, while commenting on a controversy that is a particularly Italian problem, “from China to Australia, from South America to the United States. There are, however, sensational examples in Europe where, for instance, the sale of wine kits with a soluble powder preparation is widespread, and according to what is declared on the packaging, would allow one to reproduce the most famous Italian wines, such as Brunello or Barolo. In addition to wine, some of the most counterfeited agro-food products”, Coldiretti said, “are cheeses, cured meats and preserves. We can create as many as 300.000 jobs in Italy from the fight against imitations of fake Made in Italy products at the table around the world”.

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