Protecting EU Trademark: Prosecco-Flavored Pringles Seized in Italy
Thu, April 22, 2021

Protecting EU Trademark: Prosecco-Flavored Pringles Seized in Italy

Tubes of Prosecco wine-flavored Pringles has recently been seized by the Italian authorities. / Photo by Jino Kanjiramvila via Shutterstock

 

A total of 250 tubes of Prosecco wine-flavored Pringles found in a supermarket in the Veneto region has recently been seized by the Italian authorities. This was a part of the ongoing efforts by the country’s agricultural minister Teresa Bellanova to prevent “identity theft” in relation to the illegal use of the Prosecco name. 

 

Prosecco: the Italian wine controlled by DOCG

Prosecco is an Italian wine that is controlled by the “Denominazione di Origine controllata” or DOCG, one of the classifications of wine that constitute the Italian system of legal protection and labeling. This means that the use of Prosecco's name requires prior authorization from the wine producers in the Prosecco region in northern Italy. 

Italy’s agricultural minister Bellanova said via The Guardian that the seizure showed the strong commitment of the ministry and the ICQRF (Central Inspectorate of Quality Protection and Fraud Repression) to fight the usurpation of names protected by Italian laws. The ICQRF is an authority in Italy, which fight against food fraud in the country.

 

Prosecco is an Italian wine that is controlled by the Denominazione di Origine controllata. / Photo by Ben Parker Photography via Shutterstock

 

The economic value of trademarks

Boston International College’s faculty member Rishi Ram Chapagai explained in a study titled “Economic Perspectives of Trademarks,” which appeared in the Nepal Journals Online, that trademark plays an important role in the global economy. This is because intellectual property generates a surplus and more value in the economy. Most of the buying decisions of consumers are based on the reputation of brands and trademarks, and such intellectual property is “very critical” in both the digital market space and in a competitive market place.

Chapagai cited the case of US company Google, which has a brand value of $109,470 million in 2017. It also depicted how the brand value of Apple Company decreased by 27 percent from 2016, paving the way for Google Inc. to earn the first spot in the top 10 list of the most valuable brands in 2017. Such a figure simply showed that trademarks and brands are the “source of competitive advantages” and is an intangible asset of a company, the author went on.

Economists further explained that trademarks play an important macroeconomic function to determine the origin of technologies, services, and products. Trademarks consider the accountability of its users to the consumers too. On the part of businesses, consumer loyalty helps them to enhance customer retention and is an effective means of attracting new customers.

Prosecco DOC Consortium’s president, Stefano Zanette, said in an Italian daily that theirs is a “successful product” that many often attempt to improperly use their brands for dog food, sweets, and also erotic lubricating gels. In a separate Facebook post, Veneto President Luca Zaia said that the unauthorized use of the trademark “could not be tolerated any longer.” He added that they have been insisting for years to all government and administrative levels to protect their excellence from abuse, anything “Italian-sounding” and from fraud as it damages the honest producers, who are promoting their territory and the quality of their products. 

Last year, Pringles stated that the pink peppercorn and Prosecco-flavored products were a part of their limited edition for the Christmas season and they used the Prosecco DOC as their ingredients in the aroma. Further, the use of the Prosecco name in their packaging was in line with the EU regulations.

 

 

Negative impacts of counterfeits on the economy

Thailand-based law firm LawPlus Ltd.’s managing partner Kowit Somwaiya talked in a presentation about the importance and impacts of strong trademark protection and enforcement on Economy 4.0 that trademark filings, advertising, and economic growth are all correlated with. The highest revenue-per-employee increases are associated with trademark-and-design and trademark-only owners.

The direct impacts of counterfeits on the economy include IP owners’ reputational damage, loss of goodwill, higher expenditure, and loss in sales. The indirect impacts include loss in direct foreign investment, missing out on foreign know-how, discouragement of innovation, job losses, loss of tax revenue, unfair competition, and consumers paying excessive prices for an inferior or counterfeit product.

By Economy 4.0, Somwaiya meant digitization that affects industrial production, service industries, and other areas of life.

 

Balance of Trade

Italy’s balance of trade, which is the difference between exports and imports of goods, shows the following data:

- December 2018: 2,597 million euros
- January 2019: 4,398.4 million euros
- February: 3,868.1 million euros
- March: 3,761.4 million euros
- April: 3,446.7 million euros
- May: 4,115.5 million euros
- June: 4,825.8 million euros
- July: 4,012.6 million euros
- August: 4,013.1 million euros

 

 

The trade indicator mentioned above were seasonally adjusted and released by the European Commission. Other countries were also included in the list, including the Netherlands, Ireland, Czechia, Denmark, Belgium, Hungary, Slovenia, Slovakia, Finland, Malta, Bulgaria, and Estonia. A country is said to have a trade deficit or imbalance if the imports are greater than exports. Imports are the goods and services that people are buying from foreign companies. Having a prolonged trade deficit is also viewed as negative for the economy as more products manufactured abroad are entering a country instead of patronizing the domestically produced ones.