New Zealand Uncorks Its GI Register, And Wine Australia Adds 886 Varieties To Its Cellar.

Legal News & Analysis - Asia Pacific - New Zealand - Intellectual Property

19 September, 2018


Geographical indications register


What you need to know


"Scotch Whisky" is the first foreign geographical indication (GI) to be registered on New Zealand's new GI register. More foreign GI registrations are in the pipeline. 

Australia has significantly increased the size of its GI register by determining 886 additional GIs for European wine.


What you need to do


Australian and New Zealand wine and spirit producers should be mindful of the register of GIs in each country, and take care to ensure correct use of registered foreign GIs.


New Zealand's first foreign GI – Scotch Whisky


In February 2018, Scotch Whisky became the first foreign GI for wine and spirits to be registered under New Zealand's Geographical Indications (Wines & Spirits) Registration Act 2006 (NZ) (the GI Act).


The Scotch Whisky Association filed their application for registration on 27 July 2017, the day the New Zealand foreign GI register opened. Although passed in 2006, the GI Act was only recently brought into force by an amending Bill introduced in 2016.


Applicants for foreign GIs in New Zealand must provide supporting information to the New Zealand Intellectual Property Office. For example, the applicant must produce evidence of the history and reputation of the GI, qualities and characteristics that are ‘essentially attributable’ to the region, and show that there is a corresponding GI recognised in the country of origin. 


Is Prosecco next?


Scotch Whisky's registration as a foreign GI was closely followed by Cognac's registration in March 2018. New Zealand has also received applications to register "Napa Valley" and "Prosecco" as foreign GIs.


The New Zealand decision on Prosecco will be closely watched by wine makers across the Tasman.


In 2013 Prosecco was refused registration as a GI in Australia in the decision of Winemakers Federation of Australia v European Commission [2013] ATMOGI 1. The European Commission argued that Prosecco was first and foremost the name of the Prosecco wine region of Italy. However, the Registrar of the Australian Trade Marks Office found that the term Prosecco was in widespread use in Australia as a grape variety, and upheld the objection to GI registration made by the Australian winemakers.


Media reports state that Italy has made it clear that it will seek to revive its claim that Prosecco is a GI in the upcoming Australia-EU Free Trade Agreement. 


Australia adds more GIs for wine


Meanwhile, Australia's register of GIs for wine has ripened significantly with the addition of 886 wine-related GIs from the European Union. The final determination in March 2018 added many famous wine names to the protection regime of GIs.


Some of the more commonly known wine styles in this determination include:


  • Beaujolais;
  • Bordeaux;
  • Chianti;
  • Sherry; and
  • Port.


New Legislation


The legislative instrument that had previously provided for Australia's GI regime has been replaced by a new vintage. In March 2018 the Wine Australia Regulations 2018 (Cth) replaced the Australian Grape and Wine Authority Regulations 1981 (Cth). The new regulations seek to clarify the criteria for determining Australian GIs, and to generally clean up the provisions which give effect to Australia's obligations under relevant international trade agreements that relate to GIs in the wine industry.

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For further information, please contact:


Lisa Ritson, Partner, Ashurst