NON to the color of Champagne!

You may have heard that Apple’s considering unveiling a gold-colored iPhone early next month. What does that have to do with wine?  It has all to do with wine…or rather, with wine snobbism rearing its ugly head…again.

The problem isn’t that the iPhone will be gold, per se. Rather, it’s that the device will be called a light shade of “champagne.” And now a trade association for French wines is pre-emptively warning Apple against doing so.

 “We can’t say that a ‘champagne’ colour exists,” said Charles Goamaere, legal director for the Interprofessional Committee for Champagne Wine, in an interview with French media this week. Therefore, any company wanting to use the name ‘Champagne’ would be doing so [only] to attract all the benefits that surround [the label.]”

Goamere’s trade group is among the biggest defenders of the champagne brand. If you’re a sparkling wine producer located outside of the Champagne region of France, you have to call your beverage something else.

Those protections evidently extend beyond the wine industry. In 1987, the Comité Champagne sued Perrier for marketing one of its products as “The champagne of mineral waters.” Other high-profile suits include a 1993 case targeting a perfume from Yves Saint Laurent and, more recently in 2002, a champagne-flavored yogurt from Sweden.  Trivia question: which Canadian company called its drink the “Champagne of ginger ales?”

Apple is being characteristically tight-lipped about what it’ll call its new iPhone color, but it has a history of stomping on other brands. In 2007, Apple settled a yearlong dispute with Cisco, which had also released a product under the name “iPhone.” The settlement allowed both companies to use the word, but Steve Jobs pretty clearly came out on top. Then there’s the famous case where music from the Beatles was unavailable from the iTunes Store for years, due to a longstanding dispute between the tech company and the musicians’ record label, Apple Records. And in 2012, Apple paid a Chinese company $60 million to settle a suit regarding the iPad brand in China.

Stay tuned for the next chapter of Apple vs the world.  And look out for their new shade of iPhone: the “sparkling vino”.


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