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Champagne lawyers win battle over cigarette papers

Lawyers for Champagne trade body CIVC have won their latest trademark battle, securing damages from a French company selling cigarette rolling papers.

The company, Royal Distribution Tabac Distri Nord, was selling rolling papers under the name Crystal Champs and accompanied by an image of a bottle of Champagne, and a traditional flute-shaped glass, the tribunal in Lille heard this week.

The CIVC is meticulous in its desire to protect Champagne’s image from being misused by any consumer products, not just wine. In this case, it gained support from France’s national appellations body, INAO.

Fanny Hennequin, of the legal service of INAO, told Decanter.com that it was not unusual for these trademark disputes to take place within France as well as overseas.

‘Breaches of protected designations of origin are far from limited just to foreign companies. We have perhaps 12 ongoing cases around all French appellations’.

The Crystal Champs case dates back to 2011. After the matter was not resolved amicably, it passed to the courts in 2013.

The papers had already been withdrawn from sale, but the Lille Tribunal de Grande Instance accepted that there were potential commercial damages from the misuse of the Champagne symbol and awarded unspecified damages.

Written by Jane Anson

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