Wine Law

Homonymous Names of Wines and Grape Varieties: The Case of Teran Matija Damjan1 1. Introduction; 2. Geographical Indications and Generic Names; 3. Homonymous Geographical Indications; 4. Customary Names of Grape Varieties in Wine Labelling; 4.1. International agreements; 4.2. International Standard for the Labelling of Wines; 4.3. European Union law; 5. Dispute over Teran; 5.1. Background; 5.2. Commission Delegated Regulation; 5.3. Action for annulment; 5.4. Aftermath; 6. Conclusion; 7. Bibliography. 1. INTRODUCTION On 9 September 2020, the European Union’s General Court published its judgment on case T-626/172, dismissing Slovenia’s action for annulment of the European Commission’s Delegated Regulation under which the name of the wine grape variety “Teran” may be used in the labelling of Croatian wines produced in the region of Istria. Slovenia had argued that this regulation was incompatible with the pre-existing Slovenian Protected Designation of Origin of wine also called “Teran”. The essence of the case concerned the issue of homonymous indications for wine: the situation in which two wine-producing regions use the same or similarly-sounding terms in reference to the different wines they produce. In trademark law, competing claims to the right to use a distinctive sign or term for the same goods or services are avoided by the principles of territoriality and speciality of trademarks and, above all, by the principle of priority, under which the exclusive right to a trademark is attributed to the first person who registered or used it. When a trademark is identical or similar to an earlier trademark for the same or similar goods or services, this constitutes a ground 1 Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Law, University of Ljubljana & Secretary General at the Institute for Comparative Law at the Faculty of Law in Ljubljana, 2 Judgment of the General Court of 9 September 2020, Republic of Slovenia v European Commission, case T-626/17, ECLI:EU:T:2020:402.