Paris Court of Appeal - Conseil des Grands Crus Classés 1855 and CAVB v/ Caudalie
Protected designation of origin
Paris Appeal Court
CONSEIL DES GRANDS CRUS CLASSÉS 1855 and CAVB v/ CAUDALIE
2018: A “Grand Cru” for Caudalie cosmetics?
Following the litigation between Caudalie and the Council of Grands Crus Classés 1855, the Confederation of Appellations and Winegrowers of Burgundy and the Council of Wines of Saint Emilion: Can the traditional wine terms "Grand Cru" and "Premier Cru" be registered as trademarks for products other than wine, namely cosmetics?
In its judgment dated May 29, 2018, the Paris Court of Appeal replies in the affirmative by applying in all points the specialty principle of the traditional terms.
As a reminder, the company Caudalie has registered the French trademarks "Premier Cru" and "SOIN PREMIER GRAND CRU" for cosmetics and especially beauty creams. The 3 wine councils considered it as acts of parasitism and an evocative use of the appellations of origins and traditional mentions of "Cru" as well as facts of deception of the consumer. They also requested in Court the invalidity of the trademarks for descriptiveness and deceptiveness.
A judgment of the Tribunal de Grande Instance of Paris dated May 20, 2016 dismissed the plaintiffs of their claims by considering that the signs "premier cru" and "premier grand cru" used by Caudalie did not constitute an usurpation or an imitation of a protected traditional term, since, having regard to the nature of the products which they designate, they could not be associated with wines.
The Court of Appeal acknowledges that in view of their use for cosmetic products, which are very distinct from wine, the signs "premier grand cru" and "premier cru" cannot result in a depreciation of the economic value attached to these terms for wine, and thus rejected the qualification of parasitism.
In this context, the Court adds that the use if these traditional terms for cosmetic products is not a misleading practice or an unlawful evocation of appellations of origin, since the consumer will not be led to believe that these products contain wine.
As the French and European texts recognize a principle of specialty for traditional wine-growing terms, the litigious trademarks are therefore arbitrary and not deceptive. So they are validly registered under French and European law.