Bahahaha....PAWS, get it?

Anyway. It's quite rare that my passions combine like this, so please excuse my excitement here. This is a story that about three things I'm a big fan of:

What's Pawsecco?

Well, we may never know. But it was applied for by a UK company called "Woof and Brew" who applied for a UK trademark for "Pawsecco" for pet drinks. AND I QUOTE:

"Good friends bring happiness, but best friends bring Prosecco, and now mans' best friend can join in too"

So, what's the problem? All good tail wagging fun, right?

Not if you're the body responsible for protecting brand Prosecco, no.

Prosecco is a PDO/DOC/PGI/AOO

A PDO is a Protected Designation of Origin (Prosecco is actually a Denominazione di Origine Controllata, the parallel Italian system for protection of geographic specific wine produce, but let's not get bogged down in the distinction)

A lot of people are familiar with the fact that Champagne is only allowed be called Champagne if it comes from the Champagne region in France. Well that's what PDOs (and their equivalents) are all about. PDO/PGI are the terms used at EU Level. There are also a number of international agreements which use the other terms and definitions....which makes it all a bit confusing. For now, let's stick with the basics:

  • Protected Designation of Origin

Foods and agricultural products that are protected under this particular designation must be produced, processed and prepared within a particular geographical environment and must have qualities or characteristics exclusive to that area with its inherent natural and human factors.

  • Protected Geographical Indication

The requirements to be registered as a PGI are less stringent than those required for PDO status - You can apply for a PGI for which are produced or processed or prepared within a certain area, and which have a reputation, features or certain qualities attributable to that area.

In the case of Prosecco, it's is only really Prosecco (so to speak) if it is produced in one of nine provinces spanning the Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia regions in Italy.

What's the case about?

Well, there is a specific company that controls the rights and trademarks relating to 'Prosecco' (the aptly titled "CONSORZIO DI TUTELA DELLA DENOMINAZIONE DI ORIGINE CONTROLLATA PROSECCO"). It owns and controls this trademark. Only real prosecco producers are allowed to use it, or call their products Prosecco. Otherwise, it's Sparkling Wine.

That company objected to the trademark application for 'Pawsecco'. They also previously opposed a trademark application for 'Skinny Prosecco' by a UK company. Their arguments included: 

Interestingly, some of the evidence brought before the opposition division involved quotes from social media:

The opposition division decided that allowing registration of 'Pawsecco' would take unfair advantage of the reputation of Prosecco, and dilute the brand (among other things). Accordingly, the trademark was refused.

The Important Point

If you are a food producer, there can be huge value in applying for protection as a PDO or PGI. In Ireland, there are only currently only 3 registered PDOs and 4 registered PGIs. The procedure for applying and obtaining protection can be quite complicated and involves a formal application to the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine, followed by a publication and opposition period. 

If that isn't an option for you, another option might be to apply for what's called a certification mark (as a trademark) which carries more weight than a general trademark, but is far lesser than a PDO or PGI - Think "Guaranteed Irish" or "Love Irish Food" for example.

Brand Ireland is valuable, and food and drink producers should be leveraging it in every way possible.

For more information, call Brian Conroy on 01 6393000 for a chat (over a glass of prosecco, obviously).

Please Note - As a student I once tried to put white wine in a Soda Stream to see if I could make my own cheap Prosecco/Champagne. It exploded all over the place. Consider yourself warned.