Washington Law Review

Comment

The Perfect Pairing: Protecting U.S. Geographical Indications with a Sino-American Wine Registry

March 01, 2013 | 88 Wash .L. Rev. 723

Abstract:  Chinese counterfeiters have infiltrated the wine world, falsely labeling products and using fraudulent geographical indications (GIs). GIs, which function as a type of brand, are internationally protected designations of a product’s origin and characteristics. Recently, United States GIs, such as Napa or Walla Walla, have appeared on bottles of wine composed of Chinese grapes. By misappropriating U.S. brands, Chinese counterfeiters deceive and confuse consumers, disadvantage legitimate businesses, and causes health concerns. Unlike other brands, GIs protect regions, rather than individual producers. This creates a particular void: no single winery can register a GI and no single winery is harmed by fraudulent use, making counterfeits difficult to prevent, detect, and address. This Comment argues that Chinese law currently provides insufficient protection for U.S. wine GIs. As a solution, it proposes a Sino-American wine registry to effectively preserve GIs and protect the affected wines, producers, consumers, and countries.

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