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Vinexpo wins ‘economic parasitism’ case

Vinexpo has won its case against the Italian promoter it accused of unfair business practices.

Italissima’s homepage, advertising the space near Vinexpo

Bordeaux’s commercial affairs tribunal fined Ital-Assist €150,000, according to Sud-Ouest newspaper, upholding Vinexpo’s charges of ‘economic parasitism’, a French law that prevents businesses from taking advantage of higher profile competitors.

In 2009, Ital-Assist head Anna Serio organised a tasting room in a 600 square metre tent adjacent to the massive Vinexpo hall.

Vinexpo claimed the tasting – called Italissima – was organised under false pretences and could undermine the main event.

‘When you are the leader, you accept that it is normal for “off-sites” to take place at the same time. There are many authorised events that take place in Bordeaux during the fair,’ said Vinexpo chief Robert Beynat.

‘But there has to be some control, and this event was organised within the perimeter of the exhibition, without our permission. I felt it was too much – they were trying to attract our visitors without spending money to be part of Vinexpo itself.’

Some of Italiissima’s wine was seized, and Vinexpo marketing director Jean-François Ley and Anna Serio accused each other of assualt. This separate case was dismissed.

Serio told Decanter.com she had set up Italissima in response to requests from 70-odd producers who had been left out of Vinexpo.

‘It was a small, private area for producers who wanted to be inside [Vinexpo] but were told there was no room,’ she said.

‘I have worked with Vinexpo’s blessing in the past. We are really not aggressive or parasites compared with other off-site events, including many French ones. They have gone after the wrong people.’

Serio, who is appealing against the decision, said the tribunal had misunderstood the situation because it is not staffed with business professionals.

Written by Maggie Rosen

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