WorldWine News

2013-02-15

Defeat for Germany's VDP

Germany's VDP, considered by many as the association of the country's top producers, has just suffered a crushing although widely expected defeat before the European Court of Justice. The VDP had already been defeated at an inferior court after having sued the Community's Office for Harmonization which had not recognized the VDP's request to protect the word mark "GG" - an abbreviation of "Großes Gewächs", the German wannabe equivalent of the French Grand Cru. The judgement not only raises questions about the "GG" brand itself but also about the professionality and preparedness of the VDP in its course through the instances of jurisdiction.


Even in Germany itself the VDP GG logo (left) is not as exclusive as the VDP sometimes would like it to be. The "GG" on the second photo is used by the Mosel growers association Bernkasteler Ring. (Foto: E. Supp)

The judges had rejected the VDP's request because "GG" to them appeared as nothing but a descripting indication without any clear link to a geographic origin and without posessing a graphically distinctive quality. As far as the VDP's strategy in court is concerned, the judgement heavily criticizes the fact that the association was unprepared and not able to prove a significant distribution and market relevance of its "GG" logo. The court noted that the "GG" mark has no meaning of its own but is generally only considered as an abbreviation of "Großes Gewächs", itself clearly a descriptive indication for the above mentioned reasons.

With respect to the VDP's argument that "GG" referred exclusively to wines of the association's members and thus did not have a generic descriptive quality, it is interesting to note that this is exactly the opposite of what the VDP has always been declaring since the creation of their "Großes Gewächs". The category, they had claimed, was meant to be open to be adopted and used by other producers than the VDP members themselves.

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