The Champagne brand is the most protected wine brand in the world. This careful and arduous protection is done by a group of modern-day-knights known as the CIVC (Comité Interprofessional de Vins de Champagne). The CIVC is actively involved around the world in protecting the Champagne brand.
The CIVC is a formidable force in protecting the brand
The CIVC was formed in 1941. The German army had marched into the Champagne district and its commanders demanded all of the sparkling wine be given to them. Local wine producers banded together to protect themselves and were able to negotiate partial gifting (much of what was given was of a lesser quality, but cleverly passed off as "premier"). After the war, this group morphed into the CIVC. One of their important functions is still to protect Champagne, but in this era it’s from invaders of a different type---brand invaders.
Champagne is a brand. It is a powerful brand. The mere name connotes luxury. Many would consider Champagne the globe’s most important wine, therefore, any intrusions on the Champagne name are serious offenses. The CIVC has a cadre of attorneys around the world acting as knights in legal armor.
Not even fellow luxury brand Yves Saint Laurent could escape the CIVC
There have been dozens of lawsuits won by the CIVC regarding brand infringement. Some of them have been against major corporations. Take for example, Yves Saint Laurent, another French brand synonymous with extravagance. The CIVC pounced on YSL over its perfume, Champagne. The perfume had to be removed from the market.
Less well known companies have also felt the legal force of the CIVC. Businesses producing such items as a lingerie line called Champagne, or Champagne candy in the shape of a cork, are no longer in business. Chinese beer manufacturers calling their products the “Champagne of Beer,” no longer abuse the brand of Champagne after their tangle with the CIVC legal beagles. There have been cigarettes, toothpaste, and even cola called Champagne. They no longer exist thanks to the CIVC.
Coming on the September 2024 tour next year to Champagne with Wine-Knows? We will have a private seminar at the CIVC with one of its Directors. There are 3-4 spots available on this trip.