A dispute between Concha y Toro and a group of winemakers in Argentina has made its way to the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
The row centres on the use of the term ‘Patagonia’ for some of the Chilean wine giant’s products.
Concha y Toro subsidiary Viña Cono Sur registered the brand name Patagonia 27 years ago. Earlier this year, the company launched a range of wines under that name in Chile.
Winemakers that are part of the Camara de Bodegas Exportadoras de la Patagonia Argentina business chamber – including Fin del Mundo, Peñaflor and Familia Schroeder – have embarked on a process to block Concha y Toro from using the brand in markets, efforts that now include the US. Concha y Toro generates around 15% of its sales in the country.
Most of the Patagonia region is on Argentina’s side of the Andes, comprising the territory from La Pampa province up to Tierra del Fuego.
The chamber argues no private entity, Argentine or otherwise, should be able to trademark the word ‘Patagonia’. The winemakers assert that, as Patagonia is recognised as a geographical region under Argentine law, the use of the term should only apply to products grown and manufactured there.
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Ana Viola, the president of the chamber and CEO of one of the Argentine winemakers, Malma, told Just Drinks their application is before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board in the US.
Concha y Toro defended its use of the term. “This product is associated with the Chilean Patagonia since part of its income is destined to protect that ecosystem through a specific project,” the company in a statement.
The Casillero del Diablo brand says it donates 1% of the net sales from the Patagonia range to the 1% for the Planet scheme. Through the NGO, the company hopes to contribute to the conservation of the Chilean Patagonia, which comprises the territory from Última Esperanza Province down to Tierra del Fuego.
Concha y Toro also stressed it obtained a favourable ruling on the use of the word ‘Patagonia’ in the EU in March.
Viola acknowledged the Argentine winemakers suffered a setback in Brussels but underlined they were backed in a separate case in the UK. “It is all part of the process,” she said. “A setback will not distract when defending the name of our origin region from companies with misleading advertising that use Patagonia on their labels. In a product where origin is a very important factor, using a region’s name is not innocent, it deceives consumers.”
Concha y Toro underlined it is only selling the Patagonia range in Chile.