Will the Champagne growers (CIVC) force a great supporter, Champagne Jayne, into bankruptcy with their bullying?

The despicable behaviour of the CIVC Champagne marketing organisation against a great champagne supporter

“Champagne Jayne” is the name that Jayne Powell uses for her wine tasting and wine promotion activity in Australia. Or at least it has been until recently.

The Champagne growers and makers association CIVC is suing her for using the name “Champagne” in her activity. They have taken her to court in Australia and may very well put her entirely out of business.

This is yet another case of how the Champagne growers try and use its enormous power and its huge budget to squash what it does not like.

Any other person would see it as just a good thing that “Champagne Jayne” promotes Champagne in Australia. But the CIVC, Commité Champagne, does not. The CIVC has, according to some sources, a budget of 10 million euros. Champagne Jayne is a single person working with wine promotion and wine education in Australia.

I cannot see how this can be justified. Read the article below by Jim Budd and judge for yourself!

The court has scheduled a mediation attempt now in March.

You can support Champagne Jayne by contributing a donation to her defence and mediation. She needs to find money to pay for legal advice to defend herself against the CIVC: Jayne vs Goliath donation project on GoFundMe.

Champagne Jayne has spent many years of her life promoting and supporting the Champagne industry by educating and entertaining people from all parts of the world about Champagne. Despite her passionate efforts and support of the Champagne industry she is now being sued by the Comité Interprofessionnel du vin de Champagne (the CIVC) for deceiving and misleading conduct.

Next time you drink Champagne, give it a thought! Does it not have a bitter taste?

Read Jim Budd’s article below.

A glass of sparkling wine

A glass of sparkling wine, copyright BKWine Photography

Please note: the above is non-Champagne sparkling wine.

Should this case ever have been brought?

The below is a republication of an article published in the Circle of Wine Writers newsletter The Update, published with permission of the author and editor, Jim Budd, equally the new Chairman of the CWW. It was originally published in the December issue of the CWW Update.

Whose reputation is tarnished most?

As I write CWW member Jayne Powell, better known as ‘Champagne Jayne’, has just spent the best part of four days (15th-18th December) in the Federal Court in Melbourne accused by the CIVC of both profiting from the reputation of Champagne and tarnishing this reputation, as Powell also writes and talks about sparkling wines other than Champagne.

For almost two days Jayne was in the witness box facing the sharpest legal eagles the mighty CIVC could find.

Whatever the rights and wrongs of the case, which I will come to in a minute, I am full of admiration for the way that Jayne has stood up for what she believes is right in the face of severe legal threats from the very deep-pocketed CIVC.

Her stand has been at great personal cost, not just from the stress involved but also the time and work preparing her case and responding to demands from the CIVC which has extended the scope of the case on several occasions. The debts she has incurred in defending herself could well drive her into bankruptcy.

At the start of the fourth and final day of the hearing it was announced that the two parties had agreed to mediation.

This will be in the first week of March in the presence of an independent adjudicator. On court orders there has already been one mediation attempt in March/April 2014. It was unsuccessful. I suspect it may well have failed due to the CIVC continuing its hardball tactics. After all, given Jayne’s financial exposure it would have been in her interest to accept a reasonable offer. For more detailed coverage of the court case, see: http://jimsloire.blogspot.co.uk/2014/12/civc-v-champagne-jayne-day-4-fizzical.html

There are two separate issues here.

First there is the trademark ‘Champagne Jayne’ which since July 2012 is an Australian trademark belonging to Jayne Powell.

Secondly there is the claim that Jayne has been profiting from the reputation of Champagne while tarnishing it and misleading the public by mentioning and showing non-Champagne sparkling wines alongside Champagne. It is the second claim that the CIVC has been seeking to prove in the Melbourne court. As Jayne is such an enthusiastic advocate and supporter of Champagne, it must be a considerable challenge to prove that she has damaged Champagne’s reputation. Far easier to show that the CIVC’s action has damaged Champagne’s reputation!

Jayne made a probably unintentional mistake in styling herself as a ‘Champagne ambassador’. This claim has been removed from her website.

While I entirely understand that Champagne has to protect its trademark and intellectual property, so would want to oppose the Champagne Jayne trademark, I find it completely unacceptable and self-defeating that it has been ruthless in seeking to prove that Jayne has tarnished Champagne’s reputation by occasionally showing non-Champagne sparkling wines.

The CIVC’s determination to prove that Jayne had misled consumers over the difference between Champagne and other sparkling wines involved the bizarre ploy of producing in court a 282-page print out of Jayne’s some 3400-Twitter followers. Goodness knows how many copies of this had to be made and how many reams of paper wasted – little wonder that only around 1% of the Champagne vineyards are classified organic.

Hopefully the mediation will be a genuine attempt on both sides to find a solution. If the CIVC is successful in forcing Jayne to give up her Champagne Twitter handle and Facebook page, this may well have implications for others using ‘Champagne’ in their Twitter handle or in other social media. A quick check on Twitter shows that there are at least 20 ‘Champagne’ handles. Users include other wine critics, those associated with hip-hop and, in one instance, an escort agency in Milton Keynes.

Although I am sure, despite everything, Jayne herself celebrated Christmas with Champagne, I enjoyed a Champagne-free festive season.

/end/

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2 Comments to Will the Champagne growers (CIVC) force a great supporter, Champagne Jayne, into bankruptcy with their bullying?

  1. Wines Inform Assessors March 31, 2015 at 18:53 #

    The same situation occurred with sparkling wines produced in Spain, basically made in Catalonia and related with Champagne historically due to the production of cork closures-

    About this relationship is interesting to read the book of Rafael Nadal “When we called champagne”. Rafael Nadal is a writer that belongs to the saga of the Nadal family, former owners of the company Francisco Oller (now owned by the Amorim Group) that produces corks stoppers for sparkling wines at Catalonia and Reims – under the name OLLER & Cie-

    In 1972 it was created the official name Cava due to the exigences of Champagne producers. Before the usual names to designate it were “champagne” (in Spanish), “xampany” (in Catalan)

    My opinion is that the names must be authentic. I do not want feta cheese produced in Germany or Parmesan cheese produced in the US or Sherry not manufactured in its original production area

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  1. Bubbly Beijing: The New Chinese Sparkling Wine You Need to Try | Grape Wall of China - April 6, 2015

    […] I’ve tried this bubbly at the winery and at Mali Wine Cellar, and especially liked tasting it against sparkling wines from France and South Africa at the latter. Our group agreed the brut outperformed the brut rosé and is cheaper to boot. In any case, this is all a good sign for China, where sparkling wine sales — particularly for Prosecco and Cava — are growing, and we will hopefully see more bubbly operations pop up. I’m less involved with the role of Chandon and other Champagne houses in this case. […]

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