Moët 'bullying' Australian couple over name

  • Thursday 2 August 2001

Champagne heavyweight Moët & Chandon is using 'big bully' tactics in an effort to prevent an Australian couple from opening their first-ever winery.

The tiny family-owned vineyard in Queensland, called Channon Estates, is facing a legal battle with the world-renowned sparkling wine giant, which alleges that 'Channon' is too similar to its own name, and is misleading the public.

A letter from Moët & Chandon's solicitor requests that Channon Estate's owners, Robert and Peggy Channon, stop using their name, which is 'confusingly similar' to its own and could, 'deceive distributors, retailers and customers'.

Moët & Chandon is an international producer of sparkling wine, with vineyards in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Spain, and California. Robert Channon, who plans to open his 8ha property in small Queensland town Stanthorpe next month, is bewildered by the move.

'These are big bully tactics from a very large wine company,' he says. 'There is no similarity between our market or our products – we are no threat to them whatsoever.'

Channon, an ex-lawyer, has always had an interest in wine and this is his first vineyard venture. He planted his vines, including Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, on the property three years ago and has recently completed his first full harvest.

He says, 'We are terribly grateful to Chandon, we've have some great press, been on the national news and this can only be positive for the winery.

'I can't see why we would have to change our name,' he continues. 'We have received numerous emails and faxes saying this situation is ridiculous. But there's a 50-50 chance, we ought to be able to keep it. We will definitely be opening, the only question is, under what name?'

Tony Jordan, managing director and chief winemaker at Australia's Domaine Chandon, says, 'Moët is not wanting to crush a business here, it is simply a case of a company protecting its brand.'

'Channon has ignored the brands issue here. The point is that there is no threat of Moët being affected commercially, but there is always the potential for the registered name to become a commodity,' he adds.

The Channons face trademark proceedings over the next year, after which the case could end up being disputed in court.

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