Champagne copyright infringement

Posted: 2nd March 2017

ChampagnePenalties for infringement of trade marks and other intellectual property rights can be severe. In one case, a Spanish company that sold millions of bottles of cava into the UK market in breach of a champagne producer’s rights was stripped of the entire Euros 1.3 million profit it made from its wrongdoing.

The cava bore a name, label and general get up that were confusingly similar to those of a premium champagne brand. A judge found it probable that consumers had bought the cava in the belief that it was one of the champagne producer’s products. After the cava maker was found to have infringed its trade marks, the champagne producer elected to be compensated on the basis of profits that the former had made from the infringing sales.

The cava producer had totally failed to engage with the legal process and had thus put forward no arguments that might have reduced its liability. The High Court found on the available evidence that more than 2.8 million of the offending bottles had been sold in the UK at a gross profit of Euros 1,332,844. The cava maker was ordered to pay that sum to the champagne producer.