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French winemaker in battle with Vodka giant

A furious trademark wrangle has broken out between Swedish vodka giant Absolut and a hispanophile French wine producer.

Tinto Absoluto, a southern French red wine made near Perpignan is, according to Absolut, infringing on the Swedish company’s brand name.

Absolut appealed against France’s granting of intellectual property rights to the wine saying customers ‘risked confusing the products’.

‘At first, I thought it was a joke,’ winemaker Jean-Philippe Beille told French newspaper Liberation. ‘To imagine that a French red wine could be confused with a clear Swedish spirit – I couldn’t believe it.’

Across the area strong political feelings have been stirred. The villagers of Cabestany, where the wine is made, have united behind their local vigneron.

A website set up by Beille even proclaims ‘vodka no pasara’ – an echo of the socialist battlecry of the Spanish civil war, ‘No Pasaran’ (they shall not pass).

Beille chose to call the wine Tinto Absoluto, ‘Absolute Red’ in Catalan, to cash in on the growing popularity of Spanish wines, especially in Switzerland.

Whether or not Tinto Absoluto will remain on the shelves has yet to be decided.

Although the French National Institute of Intellectual Property (INPI) sent a working solution to both parties, Absolut’s lawyers have yet to respond.

The Swedish company has one month to contest the INPI’s proposal. A decision is expected mid-November.

The Tinto Absoluto website

Written by Oliver Styles

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