Wine Law

Unconventional Trademarks in the Wine Industry Alexandra Varla 1 I. Introduction; II. The Notion of Unconventional Trademarks; III. The Value of Unconventional Trademarks and the Interdependence with Branding Strategies; III.1. The Advertising Function of a Trademark; III.2. Examples from the Wine Industry; IV. Legal and Policy Concerns in the Registration of Unconventional Trademarks; IV.1. The Absolute Grounds for Refusal and the Doctrine of Functionality; IV.2.2. Cases Regarding Registration of 3D Bottle Shapes in the Wine and (Alcoholic) Beverages Industry; IV.2.1. Coca-Cola; IV.2.2. Wajos GmbH; IV.2.3. Vinicola Tombacco and Sandro Bottega; IV.2.4. Globefill Incorporated; IV.2.5. Bacardi & Company; V. Concluding Remarks. I. INTRODUCTION Even before industrialisation, traders would use signs as some type of labelling to indicate source and distinguish their goods from those of their competitors. In the modern globalised era, trademarks have become invaluable assets and an essential element of a business’ brand identity, goodwill and reputation – in short, the essence of competition. Understanding the key role of trademarks in a highly competitive global market, brands are seeking to add value to their products and drive consumer behaviour, in more ways than one. The wine industry is no exception to that rule. The purpose of this chapter is to explore the value of unconventional trademarks in the wine industry, analyse the interdependence between non-traditional signs (such as three-dimensional bottle shapes) and brand strategy in the wine sector and examine, through cases, the legal concerns and policy considerations in the registration of unconventional trademarks. 1 Attorney at Law; LL.M in International Business Law; Founder of “Tailored: Law & Business in the Fashion & Luxury Industry”.