US Congress Passes Legislation On “Semi-Generic” Wines15/12/2006 by William New, Intellectual Property Watch Leave a CommentShare this Story:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)IP-Watch is a non-profit independent news service, and subscribing to our service helps support our goals of bringing more transparency to global IP and innovation policies. To access all of our content, please subscribe now. You also have the opportunity to offer additional support to your subscription, or to donate.By William New Just in time for the New Year, the United States Congress has passed a bill that will continue to allow the production of knock-off champagnes from outside of France.The European Union is currently examining a bill passed in December that would modify the US law on wines sold under “semi-generic” names such as California champagne, even though they use names based on geographic places elsewhere, such as France.Under international trade rules, wines and spirits whose names are geographical indications, drawing from a place or having specific characteristics, receive special protection.The United States allows domestic production of wines bearing protected names such as champagne if they also disclosed the origin of production near the semi-generic name. So a bottle may say California champagne, which is intended to differentiate it from champagne from France, where the Champagne region is located.Europe was unhappy with the practice and the two sides negotiated an agreement on wine trade concluded in March 2006, according to sources. [Editor’s Note: the bilateral agreement was not limited to the use of geographic designations on wine labels.] This month, a provision implementing the agreement was passed by Congress as part of a larger bill, HR 6111 [Sec. 422 of Medicare section, p. 113]. The new measure modifies section 5388 of US Code, on designation of wines. The bill was expected to be sent to President Bush to sign it into law.The March agreement focused on facilitating wine trade between Europe and the United States, as Europe only temporarily allowed sale of wines made under a different production method used in the United States, and a source said the United States had threatened to close its borders to European wines.The agreement allows US producers making semi-generic wines under a certificate of approval obtained before 10 March 2006 to continue to do so. The permitted semi-generic wines are: burgundy, claret, chablis, champagne, chianti, malaga, marsala, madeira, moselle, port, retsina, rhine wine or hock, sauterne, haut sauterne, sherry, or tokay.It appears the agreement does not apply to wines containing less than 7 percent or more than 24 percent alcohol by volume, nor if it is for sale outside the United States.“This is the implementation of the bilateral wine agreement. It’s good in the sense that we were expecting it,” said Stephen Adams, spokesman for the EU trade directorate. He said the European Commission could not comment on the substance of the newly passed bill until their lawyers have finished analyzing it.William New may be reached at email@example.com.Share this Story:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Related"US Congress Passes Legislation On “Semi-Generic” Wines" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.