Bordeaux châteaux making up the 1855 classification have copyrighted the term '1855' in the European Union to deter others from misusing it in a wine context.
The move means that the term ‘1855’ in a wine context has the same legal protection in European Union courts as the term ‘Grand Cru Classé’, according to the Conseil des Grands Crus Classés en 1855.
Bordeaux producers have lobbied for protection for five years, but did so with greater urgency after seeing the problems surrounding the 1855.com online wine merchant, which changed its name to Heracles but was last year fined 200,000 euros for giving false information to the Paris stock exchange. The firm was plagued by complaints about undelivered Bordeaux en primeur wines.
The Bordeaux 1855 classification dates back to the Universal Exhibition held in Paris in the year 1855 at the request of Napoleon III.
With this copyright now achieved, only the 61 red wines and 26 sweet wine châteaux who received recognition in the ranking have the right to use it on their label.
The Crus Classés council was assisted by Cabinet Inlex and lawyer Jean-Baptiste Thial de Bordenave.
‘This means that we should hopefully avoid seeing another 1855.com,’ Philippe Castéja, president of the Conseil des Crus Classés, told Decanter.com, confirming that it was one of the main reasons that they were looking for this legal protection.
The European protection will also make it easier for the group to contest any conflicting uses of the term in global markets. It has just received similar protection for the term ‘Grand Cru Classé en 1855’ in China.
Separately, the Crus Classés council said recently that it had dropped its attempt to get UNESCO World Heritage status for the 1855 classification.