FRENCH LETTER


As reported in the NZ Herald, Moa Beer, has been sent a formal warning which demands that we remove a few references to “Champagne” on this website. The letter was sent by the director-general of Comite Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne, the body which represents Champagne wine producers in the northeast of France.

The references are on the Process page under brewing techniques and twice on the News page in an article about Moa Breakfast.

The first reference is to the fact the beer is bottle-fermented, “like they do with Champagne”.

The second is from founder Josh Scott, comparing Moa Breakfast Beer to drinking Champagne at breakfast, and then the last one is again in reference to the brewing technique.

In the cease and desist letter Director-general Jean-Luc Barbier wrote that the name Champagne was protected by national laws and trans-border regulations.

He said the rules protected against exploitation of Champagne’s reputation, imitation, evocation or any use likely to mislead consumers.

“[We] ask you to immediately amend or delete any reference to ‘Champagne’ and to refrain from associating your beer with Champagne.”

But we have refused to back down and we thought the letter was a little bit overbearing and petty.

It’s obvious that we’re a brewery in the business of brewing beer and unmistakably from New Zealand. We’re not trying to pass ourselves off as a sparkling wine from France.

There is no chance of consumers being misled, so no consumer protection is required.

This is just the latest in a spate of large companies bullying smaller businesses.

NZ Dairy giant Fonterra is battling to prevent a Waikato cheese-maker from using the word “vintage” to describe its gouda. As well, this week DB Breweries forced a Central Otago brewery to stop calling its beers “Radler”, because DB trademarked the name in 2003.

Our response to the French letter was this postcard in Te Reo Maori and featuring the bombing of the Rainbow Warrior: