Business woman ‘Champagne’ Jayne Powell and actor George Clooney
Australian business woman Jayne Powell is battling the Comite’ Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne (CICV) in the Federal Court today over her use of the name ‘Champagne Jayne’.
Powell has gone from being awarded the prestigious ‘Champagne Dame’ status (Dame Chevalier de L’Ordre des Coteaux de Champagne) by the champagne industry to being sued by CICV, the French body which represents the interests of wine growers and producers in France’s Champagne region.
Powell has been running master classes, tasting, tours, and speaking about champagne for several years now.
She has a website, blog and social media presence using the name Champagne Jayne and has established herself as an expert on the subject.
Powell successfully registered the trademark “Champagne Jayne” in July 2012 but the CIVC opposed the trademark in November that year.
The CIVC claims Powell has unlawfully made a living off the name, deceived clients and tarnished the brand by referring to sparkling wines which are not champagne alongside the genuine article.
It wants the Federal Court to force Powell to cancel the business name Champagne Jayne, withdraw her trademark for the name and dump her website, Facebook and Twitter accounts all bearing the brand.
Powell says her business turns over less than $100,000 a year and says while she does also reference sparkling wines this is for the purpose of comparison.
“All I can say is that although litigation is a challenging exercise both financially and emotionally for an individual such as myself, I am defending the claim and have every confidence that the decision that the court will ultimately make will be the right one,” she said in a statement to SmartCompany.
Other businesses likely to be impacted by the outcome of the case include the Victoria’s Secret lingerie chain, which has registered the mark ‘Strawberries & Champagne’ in Australia in relation to its line of body care products, and many smaller businesses including Diamonds in Champagne and Champagne Life on a Beer Budget.
Richard Hoad, partner at law firm Clayton Utz, told SmartCompany businesses need to be careful when selecting a name as battling litigation after the fact is costly.
“It is definitely worthwhile conducting searches of the trademarks register to make sure you are not treading on other people’s toes,” he says.
“Some people are more vigilant about protecting their rights than others and the French wine regions are particularly vigilant.”
The CIVC failed to respond to SmartCompany’s request for comment prior to publication.
The four day Federal Court hearing is before Justice Beach in Melbourne.