Higher Regional Court of Munich prohibits Aldi from distributing “Champagner Sorbet“ / Comité Champagne asserts itself again with KLAKA against Aldi

Munich, 1 July 2021: Champagne-containing ice cream may not be marketed under the name “Champagner Sorbet”. This designation infringes the designation of origin Champagne enjoying protection in Europe. Just because the ice cream contains Champagne it may not be so designated. This was decided by the Higher Regional Court [Oberlandesgericht] of Munich in appellate proceedings (case no.: 29 U 1698/14), thus confirming the judgment of the District Court of Munich I dated 18 March 2014 (case no.: 33 O 13181/13). The judgment is not yet final.

The background of the litigation is the market launch of a sorbet under the name “Champagner Sorbet” by Aldi in Germany in 2012. Although the sorbet also contained 12 percent of Champagne as one of its ingredients, this did not confer a certain characteristic to the sorbet according to Comité Champagne. In fact, the sorbet tasted mostly pear, with a hint of alcohol that could have come of any alcoholic beverage. Comité Champagne sued Aldi because of the use of the protected designation of origin Champagne. In a landmark ruling the European Court of Justice, acting on referral from the German Federal Court of Justice, ruled that a protected designation of origin could only be used as part of a product designation if the ingredient conferred an essential characteristic to the foodstuff in question (case no.: C-393/16). That, in turn, would depend on “whether the product has a flavour that is primarily caused by the presence of Champagne in its composition“. With today’s decision, the Higher Regional Court of Munich implements the ECJ requirements and confirms that the designation “Champagner Sorbet” violates the provisions of the European regulation, which on the one hand protects the designation of origin against an abuse of their reputation and on the other hand protects consumers from false and misleading claims.

“ The ruling strengthens the rights to protected designations of origin. The food industry must take into account when marketing that the appeal of well-known designations must not simply be exploited or consumers deceived”, emphasizes partner Dr. Carola Onken of KLAKA Rechtsanwälte in Munich, who represented Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne in the litigation through all instances. “It does not suffice to add a little bit of Champagne to a foodstuff in order to be allowed to use the designation of origin Champagne. This also applies to other popular terms that are protected as geographic indications or designations of origin.”

For several decades, Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne has been advised and represented by the law firm KLAKA Rechtsanwälte in Munich which specializes in trademark and patent law under the auspices of partner Dr. Carola Onken and Of Counsel Dr. Michael Nieder on issues of trademark law and geographical indications of origin.

The protection of products with geographical indications of origin plays an important role in international competition. Be it Aachener Printen for a special gingerbread, Lübecker Marzipan for marzipan from Lübeck, or Bayerische Brezn for pretzels from Bavaria – the foodstuff may only be so designated if it complies with the protection criteria. Currently more than 1,800 foodstuff products and vines are registered by the European Commission as having a protected geographical indication of origin. In addition, there are more than 1,300 foods and wines with protected geographical indication.

The general association of all Champagne houses and winegrowers - Comité Champagne - works to ensure that the name Champagne is used exclusively for the prestigious sparkling wines from the Champagne region.

Representatives of Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne
KLAKA Rechtsanwälte of Munich
Dr. Carola Onken [Ms.], Attorney-at-Law, partner

Higher Regional Court of Munich
Presiding judge: Müller
Judge Dr. Ebner-Vittinghoff
Judge Dr. Hannamann

Contact person
Dr. Carola Onken [Ms.], Attorney-at-Law, partner
KLAKA Rechtsanwälte München
phone: +49 (89) 99 89 190 | Email: conken@klaka.com