Graeme Loft’s report on Day One of Jayne’s ‘trial’ Day 1: 15/12/14
‘Champagne Jayne’ on Trial
‘The final chapter in the year-long dispute between France’s protector of the exclusivity of the Champagne brand, the Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne (CIVC) and Australian wine educator Rachel Powell, better known as Champagne Jayne, began in the Federal Court of Australia today before Hon Justice Jonathan Beach.
In July 2012, Ms Powell’s trademark ‘Champagne Jayne’ was accepted by IP Australia, the Australian Government agency that administers intellectual property. The CIVC wants the Federal Court to force Ms Powell to withdraw the trademark and its use on her website, Facebook, Twitterand other social media accounts.
The CIVC has accused Ms Powell of misleading or deceptive conduct by using the name Champagne Jayne while also promoting other sparkling wines. It also accuses Ms Powell of profiting from the use of the name Champagne in her trademark Champagne Jayne and of tarnishing the Champagne brand.
The CIVC’s team of lawyers argued that Ms Powell had deliberately or inadvertently created the impression that some Australian and other sparkling wines were champagnes or were “as good as or better than” champagne. They also suggested that by using the name Champagne Jayne, she had presented herself as an approved representative of the Champagne industry. These accusations were strenuously denied by Ms Powell’s lawyer.
Video evidence from television broadcasts and social media was provided to demonstrate that since she registered Champagne Jayne as her business name in 2009 Ms Powell has passionately promoted champagne as a wine expert, broadcaster, journalist and presenter. (Jayne Powell started using Champagne Jayne for her business in 2003 and then in 2009 registered it as her business name.)
While the CIVC’s lawyers argued that Ms Powell’s presentation of other sparkling wines on television and social media was misleading and tarnished the Champagne brand, the videos showed that Ms Powell always made a clear distinction between champagne and other sparkling wines. There was no evidence of deception. Ms Powell’s lawyer also provided evidence that her presentation of sparkling wines other than champagne was occasional.
Champagne Jayne’s apparent recognition in France itself as a promoter of Champagne was highlighted, including her title as Dame Chevalier, awarded in 2012 by the Ordre des Coteaux de Champagne, the official fraternity of the major champagne brands. In the same year she was awarded International Educator of the Year at the Champagne Summit in London and a Gourmand World Wine Book Award in Paris for her book ‘Champagnes, Behind the Bubbles’.
The trial will continue tomorrow (Tuesday 16th December 2014).’
My grateful thanks to Graeme for his report from the Federal Court in Melbourne. I look forward to receiving his report on Day Two, which will be on Jim’s Loire .
Jayne Powell (Champagne Jayne) videos on YouTube.
Jayne Powell (Champagne Jayne) videos on Vimeo.
Both sides appear to be playing for high stakes. If Champagne Jayne loses she will have to rebuild her business under another name, rebuild her social media presence and face likely bankruptcy paying her legal fees. A win for Champagne would also presumably put on notice the number of people who use Champagne in their twitter handle whether they happen to be in the wine business or in a different sphere such as hi-hop.
Should the CIVC (Champagne) lose it will undoubtedly be embarrassing, although the court’s decision would presumably only apply to Australia. It would demonstrate how ruthless Champagne can be even prepared to pursue its supporters. It would probably make the pursuit of other people who use Champagne in their name on social media more difficult. While their pursuit of Champagne Jayne may lose some friends on the wine world, outside, with the possible exception of Australia it is unlikely to make any impact at all. Going after a hip-hop artist, on the other hand, could be quite different!