The Impact of the EC-Australia Wine Agreement and TRIPS on Australian Wine Law and Trade
Australian Law Teachers Association Conference Paper Series, The University of Western Australia, September 2007
Posted: 16 Aug 2012 Last revised: 21 Aug 2014
Date Written: July 1, 2007
Geographic indications (GIs) stand at the intersection of three hotly debated issues in international law: international trade, intellectual property and agricultural policy. Similar to a trademark (albeit to a limited degree), a GI identifies a good as originating in a particular region, where a given quality of the good is attributable to its place of origin. Well-known GIs include champagne and prosciutto di Parma.
Although GIs have a long history, in recent years they have become central to the debate over the expansion of intellectual property rights in the World Trade Organization. The author argues that GIs have gained greater political salience and economic value due to major changes in the global economy.
Proponents of GIs also raise more diffuse concerns about authenticity, heritage and locality in a rapidly globalizing world. After explaining the origins of the effort to protect GIs in international law, the author assesses the normative justification for these unusual intellectual property rights. Some GI protection in international law is justifiable. But, the existing level of protection afforded by the World Trade Organization - as well as current demands of the European Union for even greater protection – is unjustified. This position is defended through careful consideration of the major theoretical bases for property and economics rights.
This paper explores the historical background of wine geographical indications as derived from select European Union Member States; also the international and domestic regulation of GIs in Europe, the United States of America and, principally, Australia. It is my theory that international pressure on countries such as Australia and, to a lesser degree, the United States of America to recognize well known European wine regions has left numerous gaps to fill in the state of their domestic law. In particular, the conflict between trademarks and the considerable difficulty in administering the GI scheme in Australia.
Notwithstanding these matters, however, the use of wine zones and regions, as defined by GIs, is recognised as, amongst other things, an important brand marketing opportunity and, arguably increases the wine exporting opportunities for ‘New World Countries’. The degree to which taxation and labelling requirements sets this back, will also be explored. Still, in Australia, however, a wine GI is in fact worth more than just the name on the bottle.
Keywords: Wine Law, Trademarks, Geographical Indications, History of Intellectual Property Law, Consumer Protection
JEL Classification: K10, K13, K39, M30, O35
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation