A Sober Second Look at Appellations of Origin: How the United States Will Crash France's Wine and Cheese Party
James Ming Chen
Michigan State University - College of Law
Minnesota Journal of Global Trade, Vol. 5, pp. 29-64, 1996
France regulates the production methods of certain fine foods and beverages through appellations of controlled origin, or appellations d'origine controlee (AOCS). The AOC system restricts the right to produce select wines and cheeses to a designated geographic region associated with those foods. Sparkling wine from Champagne and Roquefort cheese are but two celebrated examples. French law ensures localized control of AOCregulated products by requiring them to be processed in the same region where the raw agricultural commodities - grapes or milk - are produced. Only those wines and cheeses produced according to these rules may be legally marketed under the geographically significant appellation of origin.
Although France hopes to place the successful marketing of AOCs at the heart of its agricultural policy, the AOC system is not likely to win full legal recognition in the United States. France faces an uphill struggle in reconciling this distinctly French and uniquely agricultural form of intangible property with hostile notions in foreign and international law. Although AOCs are commonplace in the civilian legal systems of Catholic Europe and recognized under the laws of the European Union, their American counterparts are far less protective of the "geographic" and "human" factors embraced by the French AOC system. International recognition of geographical indications suggests that AOCs are not fully protected outside the boundaries of France and the European Union. In short, substantial legal barriers hamper the restructuring of the global food and beverage trade according to the French model, as epitomized by the AOC system.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 36
Date posted: April 23, 2013