The Grapes of Wrath: The Coonawarra Dispute, Geographical Indications and International Trade

LANDMARKS IN AUSTRALIAN INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY LAW, Andrew Kenyon, Megan Richardson, & Sam Ricketson, eds., Cambridge University Press, 2009

Posted: 5 Mar 2009

See all articles by Matthew Rimmer

Matthew Rimmer

Queensland University of Technology (QUT)

Abstract

The famous wine region of Coonawarra in South Australia has been promoted as 'Australia's other Red Centre', emphasizing its terra rossa soil and its cabernet sauvignon. In his atlas of the wine regions of Australia, John Beeston comments upon the rich and contested history of the region: 'Coonawarra is certainly the most famous cabernet sauvignon region in Australia, and some would argue, the most renowned wine region in Australia per se'. A reporter, Penelope Debelle, captures a sense of the legal conflict over the parameters of the boundaries of Coonawarra: 'Behind the name Coonawarra, an inglorious contest is being waged that pits the romance of South Australia's terra rossa cool-climate wine region against the cold commercial reality of the label.'

This Chapter tells the story behind the Coonawarra litigation, addressing the parties to the dispute; the legal and historical context of the case; and the immediate impact case, as well as its lingering significance. It considers the 'Coonawarra' case as, very literally, a landmark in Australian jurisprudence in respect of intellectual property. This chapter engages in the methodology of 'legal storytelling'. In the field of new historicism, the use of anecdotes - petite histoire - has been seen as a useful way of challenging grand historical narratives. Joel Fineman has observed that the anecdote is 'the literary form or genre that uniquely refers to the real.' This chapter has three parts. Part 1 outlines the European Community - Australia Wine Agreement 1994, and the operation of the Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation Act 1980 (Cth). Part 2 considers the various stages of the dispute over the Coonawarra region - moving from the decision of the Geographical Indications Committee, to the ruling of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal; and the conclusive decision of the Full Court of the Federal Court of Australia. Part 3 examines the implications of the Coonawarra litigation for other wine regions of Australia - most notably, the King Valley in Victoria; but also the Hunter Valley in the New South Wales; and the Margaret River in Western Australia. The conclusion considers the ramifications of the European Community-Australia Wine Agreement 2007, which has been initialed by both sides.

Keywords: Geographical Indications, Trade Mark Law, Appellations of Origin, Coonawarra, King Valley, Agreement Between Australia and the European Community on Trade in Wine

Suggested Citation

Rimmer, Matthew, The Grapes of Wrath: The Coonawarra Dispute, Geographical Indications and International Trade. LANDMARKS IN AUSTRALIAN INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY LAW, Andrew Kenyon, Megan Richardson, & Sam Ricketson, eds., Cambridge University Press, 2009. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1353624

Matthew Rimmer (Contact Author)

Queensland University of Technology (QUT) ( email )

Level 4, C Block Gardens Point
2 George St
Brisbane, Queensland QLD 4000
Australia

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