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Geographical Indications for NZ wines and spirits

Hon Judith Tizard
Associate Minister of Commerce

Media release
15 November 2006

Geographical Indications for NZ wines and spirits

Associate Commerce Minister Judith Tizard today announced a voluntary geographical indications registration system for New Zealand wines and spirits.

The Geographical Indications (Wine and Spirits) Registration legislation passed by Parliament last night introduces geographical indications for wines and spirits and updates the 1994 Act.

The Minister said, "Overall, the legislation ensures that New Zealand will continue to meet its WTO obligations, but in a way that does not add unnecessary red tape for wine and spirit producers."

The legislation will provide greater legal certainty for producers without stifling innovation, and help consumers to make informed choices about the wines and spirits they buy and where they originate from.

"In recent years, New Zealand regions such as Marlborough, Martinborough, Hawkes Bay and Central Otago have also become synonymous with quality wine production," she says. "New Zealand's reputation as a quality wine producer means that New Zealand and international customers are recognising distinctions between our wines from different regions."

A geographical indication indicates that a wine or spirit comes from a specific geographical origin and possesses a particular quality, reputation or other characteristic that arises from that place of origin. Famous international examples include Champagne for sparkling wine and Scotch for whiskey.

"The legislation forms part of the government's commitment to our burgeoning wine industry and emerging spirits industry. It is also part of the government's wide-ranging reform of intellectual property law in general" the Minister said.

Key elements of the Geographical Indications legislation include:

· To be registered, a geographical indication must indicate that a wine or spirit originates from a defined area and that the quality, reputation or other characteristic of the wine or spirit is essentially attributable to that geographical origin;

· A prohibition on using a geographical indication for wines and spirits that do not originate from the area indicated;

· Breaches of the prohibition will be treated as breaches of the Fair Trading Act;

· Common or generic terms will not be protected (e.g. spirits named "vodka");

· An expert committee, which includes someone with knowledge of the wine or spirits industry, to provide advice to the Registrar.

The legislation will take effect mid 2007.


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