The INPI recognizes an infringement of the Protected Geographical Indication COGNAC by a trademark claiming eaux de vie benefiting from the geographical indication “Cognac”.
The COGNAC appellation is protected as a Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) at the European level.
The use of the COGNAC appellation is therefore regulated so that only spirits produced within a delimited production area and respecting the particular conditions of production as to the method of production, ageing and alcoholic strength defined by the specifications attached to this PGI, can benefit from it.
On November 3, 2021, the company COGNAPEA filed an application for the French trademark Cognapea which, following an objection from the INPI, claimed “Eaux de vie benefiting from the geographical indication “Cognac” in class 33.
Following the publication of this trademark application, the Institut National de l’Origine et de la Qualité (INAO) and the Bureau National Professionnel du Cognac (BNIC) jointly filed an opposition to the registration of this trademark application on the basis of the infringement of the geographical indication COGNAC.
INPI recalled that the geographical indication COGNAC is protected at the European Union level and that any infringement must be examined exclusively in the light of Regulation (EU) 2019/787 of April 17, 2019, which provides in particular in Article 21 that geographical indications are protected against “any usurpation, imitation or evocation, even if the true origin of the goods or services is indicated (…)“.
INPI further clarified that, according to the aforementioned article of the Community Regulation, geographical indications may be used by any operator marketing a spirit drink that complies with the corresponding specifications, but that according to the same article, the “evocation” of these geographical indications for such products is not allowed.
The INPI recognized that this trademark application constituted an infringement by “evocation” of the COGNAC indication insofar as it consisted of the sequence COGNA- and claimed products identical to those benefiting from the geographical indication.
It also admitted that such an evocation, by only partially reproducing the geographical indication COGNAC, could lead to a weakening of its reputation by trivializing it.
Consequently, and even though the contested trademark application claimed exclusively “Eaux de vie benefiting from the geographical indication “Cognac”, the INPI pronounced the total rejection of the Cognapea trademark application (INPI Opposition Decision n°OP22-0433 of 26/08/2022).