Protecting your Wine Labels and your IP

Corporate & Commercial 19 November 2021

In 2017, the Australian Government injected $50 million into the wine and cider industries though the Export and Regional Wine Support Package.

The strategy underpinning the $50m package was to target markets with the strongest growth potential. Namely, China and the USA. A portion of funding was also allocated to allow flexibility to respond to signals in other markets where there is potential for export value growth.

Whilst the package was welcomed in the industry due to the increase in wine tourism and demand for Australian wine, one of the major risks associated with international market exports is brand and intellectual property protection of Australian-owned wine brands.

To mitigate this risk, the Export Label Image Search System (“ELISS”) was established, which will continue to be administered by Wine Australia as an enduring benefit of the package since ending in June this year.

The ELISS is similar to the trade mark search administered by IP Australia in that particular words or images can be used to search for a wine label. The ELISS is useful for both wine producers and customers as:

  1. wine producers are now able to rely on the ELISS to identify any breaches to their intellectual property; and
  2. customers can also rely on the ELISS to verify whether the wine they are drinking that is labelled as ‘Australian made’ actually originated in Australia.

All wine intended for export after 1 July 2021 will be searchable on the ELISS as wine producers are now required to upload their wine labels to the ELISS before they can be eligible to export their wine.

Importantly, whilst the ELISS does provide protection against ‘copycat’ wine labels, it is not full proof.  Trade mark registrations should still be considered by wine producers in order to provide comfort that your wine branding is protected. More information about trade mark registration can be found here.

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