Champagne houses are well known for their success in jealously protecting their brands against those who take unfair advantage of their sparkling reputations. In one example, the makers of a premium Champagne triumphed in a High Court trade mark infringement action against the producers of a Spanish cava.
The Louis Roederer Champagne house, founded in 1773, prides itself on its ‘Cristal’ bubbly, which retails at about £175 a bottle. It took legal action after the cava, which bore the label ‘Cristalina’ and was a product of one of the world’s largest wine producers, appeared on supermarket shelves, priced at about £5.
In upholding Louis Roederer’s claim, the Court found that there was a real risk of public confusion between the two products. The bottle and the label of the cava were similar to the Champagne and the Cristalina name took unfair advantage of and was detrimental to the distinctive character and repute of the Cristal mark.
Louis Roederer had also launched proceedings against two supermarket chains which had stocked Cristalina. However, that dispute had been settled and the offending cava had been removed from shelves. The Court’s ruling opened the way for the Champagne house to seek substantial damages from the cava producers or an account of profits which the latter had made from selling it.