Australia unveils ‘label directory’ to protect wine brands

Legislation introduced by the Australian parliament today will establish a wine export label directory to protect Australian wine brands from copying and false labeling.

The directory, to be established by the industry body Wine Australia, will help Australian wine brands protect their intellectual property rights from those who wish to misuse them for their own gain.

Called the Wine Australia Amendment (Label Directory) Bill 2019, the legislation authorizes the creation of a “publicly accessible online database” of all Australian wine export labels.

Commenting on the bill, Agriculture Minister Senator Bridget McKenzie said: on this request.

“Once implemented, all Australian wine exporters will be required to submit images of their labels prior to export, these images will be uploaded to the searchable directory.”

McKenzie added that the move will bring “greater transparency” to the labels of exported wines and help prevent “copycat export wines.”

This in turn will help “build consumer confidence” abroad, she said, helping to reinforce the idea that they are buying “a safe and premium Australian product”.

The Australian government will provide AU $ 417,000 to support the repertoire from the Regional Wine and Export Support Program.

McKenzie added: “Strengthening Australia’s reputation as a producer of premium wines helps secure jobs in an industry that directly employs over 69,000 people, often in rural and regional areas.

“Wine Australia will be responsible for creating the directory, which they will integrate into their next Wine Australia licensing and approval system by December 2020.

“The Australian wine industry produces some of the best products in the world and is a key sector if we are to grow our agricultural industries to $ 100 billion by 2030. Our government will continue to support the Australian wine industry to the end. “

Asked what has been put in place to prevent potential fraudsters from abusing the directory, Wine Australia said beverage trade that exporters will only be required to submit low resolution images that can be watermarked.

A spokesperson added that the directory will be publicly searchable, as will other trademark registries around the world.

“By searching the registry, consumers and businesses will be able to verify whether a certain label has been affixed to an Australian wine. Copy labels will not appear on the register and therefore will not easily be verified as being of Australian origin. This will have a deterrent effect on copier producers. “

This follows the news of multiple cases of counterfeiting in export markets, particularly in Asia.

Cambodian authorities last week arrested three men on suspicion of selling fake wine, seizing several thousand fake Penfolds branded bottles.

In November 2018, Chinese police arrested 11 people and seized more than 50,000 bottles of fake wine bottled as Penfolds in Australia and Changyu in China during a crackdown in central Henan Province, near Beijing.

In April, during a similar operation in the central city of Zhengzhou in China, authorities seized 50,000 bottles of fake Penfolds worth more than RMB 18 million ($ 2.8 million), five months only after the seizure of 14,000 counterfeits in Shanghai in November 2017.

Brand owner Treasury Wine Estates (TWE) has cracked down on counterfeiters after winning its lawsuit earlier this year against the knockoff brand “Rush Rich” in Shanghai, a year after filing a lawsuit in Australia and China.

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Elisha A. Tilghman

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