The Spanish Supreme Court (Criminal Chamber) has recently handed down an interesting judgment that declares that the sale of wine under a deceptive Geographical Indication (“GI”) constitutes not only an IP offence, but also a prosecutable fraud (“estafa
”), which is a different crime under the Spanish Criminal Code.
The concurrence of the two criminal charges over the same conduct significantly increases the punishment for the impeached individuals, and enhances the legal (criminal) protection over GIs in Spain.
According to the reported judgment, some individuals sold almost 1,000,000 bottles of wine branded with a label that read “Denominacion de Origen de la Rioja
”, when the wine originated in an area outside the geographical scope of the GI. Such bottles were imported and sold in the UK through a network of wholesalers.
The accused individuals not only counterfeited the labels attached to the bottles, but also the Certificates by the “Consejo Regulador de la Denominacion de Origen La Rioja” (La Rioja GI Council) that are required to legally ship the wine to Great Britain.
The impeached individuals have been sentenced to 4 years and 6 months of prison, to pay damages in the amount of 100,000.- Euros and to bear the Court costs and the attorney’s fees from the winning party.
The full text of the Judgment (in Spanish) is available here