A Good Reason to Boycott Champagne

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA“French wine snobs warn Apple not to release ‘Champagne” Colored iPhone”

This is why people hate lawyers, isn’t it? Isn’t this why no matter how mean and offensive lawyer jokes can be, no one ever says, “hey, knock it off, lawyers are people too!”

The Interprofessional Committee for Champagne Wine, whose charge is to protect the regional identity of the Champagne drink against unjustified usage of the term, believes it can tell the producers of a phone that they may not use the term “champagne” to describe the color of the phone.

In the past, sparkling wines not produced in Champagne, but having the term “Champagne” on their label, have been forced to stop using the term. According to the Washington Post Blog, Perrier was sued for marketing one of its products as “The champagne of mineral waters” and a yogurt was forced to stop marketing its product as being “champagne flavored”.

I get this. These are things one ingests.

But now the protectors of the Champagne brand want to claim a non-consumable item that has nothing to do with food, drink, ingesting, etc. may not use the term “Champagne” in any way to describe the color of the item—like an iPhone? That’s precedent setting and so likely to fail on legal grounds that one can only assume this claim hasn’t been thought through, or that it was thought through after drinking a couple of bottles of the kind of crappy Champagne that gives you headaches and fuzzy thoughts.

Listen to this explanation by the legal director of the Interprofessional Committee for Champagne, Chalres Goamaere: “We can’t say that a ‘champagne’ colour exists. Therefore, any company wanting to use the name ‘Champagne’ would be doing so [only] to attract all the benefits that surround [the label.]“

Whether or not M. Goamaere can say if a “Champagne Color” exists or not is a problem that M. Goamaere has to deal with. Clearly Apple can say this, along with probably half the population on earth.

I hate these kinds of attention getting, nuisance, useless lawsuits that do nothing but suck equity out of companies for no good reason other than it can be sucked out. You don’t see them too often in the wine industry. I hope Apple tells Champagne, “Va t’empaler encule”.

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14 Responses

  1. Kim Johannsen - September 3, 2013

    I’d have to side with Champagne on this one. Of course Apple can make a phone any color they please, but if they chose to call that phone Champagne, they are definitely capitalizing on the connotations of the name, and not just describing the color. So while Apple isn’t competing with Champagne, they could influence the perception of the name, which Champagne has spend a long time building up.

  2. Charlie Olken - September 3, 2013

    A few years ago, maybe 20 by now, I was randomly selected to discuss my reaction to a new shoe from Adidas called Montana. The company claimed it was named after the state even though its line contained not one item that bore a geographical name except those directly assocciated with teams like Barcelona, etc. Of course, it also turned out that the SF 49ers had a fairly decent quarterback by the name of Montana.

    The question put to me, and I presume to hundreds or even thousands of others, was what did I associate with the name of the shoe. The answer, of course, was easy. Mr. Montana won whatever lawsuit he filed and the shoe disappeared.

  3. Robert - September 3, 2013

    Nobody is sucking equity out of Apple. This is primarily a “cease and desist” lawsuit. Champagne isn’t looking for damages, so that argument fall apart.

    And what is a Champagne color. Unlike Chartreuse, it can’t be defined on an RBY matrix. I can open up a dozen bottles of Champagne, and they will range in color from the palest shade of golden up to a deep, ruby pink. Clearly Apple is hoping to gain the resonance of the luxury status implicit in the regional name.

    Otherwise, why don’t they name it Cava colored or Prosecco colored? How about California Bulk Charmat Process Colored?

    As for these lawsuits, they happen all the time in the wine industry. Jess Jackson and the Gallo brothers were notorious for throwing cease and desist trademark lawsuits at anyone and everyone.

  4. Jeff - September 3, 2013

    I really want to like French wine snobs i.e. Champagne, but this kind of stuff makes it hard to. Thanks for the blog.

  5. W.R. Vinovskis - September 3, 2013

    Over the past 40 years, I have driven champagne colored cars, sat on champagne colored sofas and seen champagne colored blazers. There are hundreds of products on the market today that are that creamy, yellow-gold, pinkish hue that are labeled “champagne colored”. What they are branding is a sparkling, fermented grape juice beverage that represents a particular terroir in a specific geographic region in France, not a color palette. If this issue was over any type of food item, I would agree with Kim’s point and side with the Champagne region. To Charlie’s point, part of Joe Montana’s “brand” is athletic prowess–supposedly expressed in athletic equipment bearing his name. General Motors has a long history of doing this with place names. To my knowledge, there are no lawsuits against the Pontiac Montana mini-van or the Chevrolet Montana pick-up truck, or the old Chevrolet Caprice or Pontiac Parisienne, or the current Buick Lucerne or Verano, in spite of the fact that those vehicles aren’t made in France or Switzerland or Italy.

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  7. Patrick - September 3, 2013

    Here’s a historical tidbit that may be relevant: The name “Champagne” for the French region was actually coined by Roman soldiers, who thought that the region resembled their “Campagna.” So the name Champagne itself is a rip-off. Probably everyone already knew this, but it surprised the *^&%%^ out of me. This factoid tells me that the French need to get over themselves about this one.

  8. Terroirist: A Daily Wine Blog » Daily Wine News: Historic Vineyards - September 4, 2013

    […] In a separate post, Alder Yarrow thinks the Interprofessional Committee for Champagne is overreacting to the possibility that Apple may name one of the new color options for the iPhone “Champagne.” Tom Wark agrees. […]

  9. doug wilder - September 4, 2013

    I have mixed feelings about this. California has a history of using names ‘borrowed’ from other regions for marketing wine; Chianti, Burgundy, Rhine, Claret, etc that have nothing to do with the original.. On the other hand (as Miley Cyrus has shown us recently), there is no such thing as bad publicity. In that regard, Champagne should do the civilized thing and toast the launch of something we will all forget about in 30 days. Just thinking about it makes me want to pop a J Schram…

  10. Alfonso - September 4, 2013

    my phone fell in a glass of Champagne – end of story

  11. Steve - September 6, 2013

    I have a Canadian Oxford Dictionary from 2000 in which the second definition of Champagne is “a pale cream or straw colour.” I think they’ll have a hard time clawing that definition back from the public domain. If they have enough money to fight Apple in court about something so inconsequential, their product may well be as unjustly priced as many have suspected.

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  13. Josselin Noirel - September 13, 2013

    They could have welcome the move. Yes, Apple benefits from the characteristics associated with posh, expensive, subtle, bubbly, refreshing, celebrating wines. But similarly Champagne could benefit from the edginess, modernity of Apple and simply from being back in the spotlight to be au goût du jour. It could have been mutually profitable.

  14. シューズ 正規品 - November 2, 2013

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