Monash University researchers have received a $100,000 Federal Government grant to explore the legal basis for protecting geographical indications (GI) for wines in trade agreements, as Australia’s Prosecco production is put under the spotlight.

The European Union is seeking to classify Prosecco as a GI instead of a grape variety for wine producers outside of the northern Italy region who are marketing and labelling wine using the grape vines as Prosecco.

The $100,000 fund announced by Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan will be granted to the Australian Research Council’s Linkage Projects and aims to present evident-based recommendations on GI claims to the government and industry bodies.

The research team includes professor Mark Davison, professor Moira Paterson, Dr Lisa Spagnolo, Dr Caroline Henckels from Monash University’s Faculty of Law, and Dr Enrico Bonadio from City University of London.

“If Prosecco is the name of a grape variety and not a geographical indication, the prohibition of its use in trademarks on Australian Prosecco would be likely to contravene Article 20 of the TRIPS Agreement, and Article 2.1 of the Technical Barriers to Trade Agreement,” Davison said.

“We’re grateful to the Federal Government for their financial support to help us develop a legal framework and associating guidelines for protecting geographical indications for wines, and to help Australia and its wine manufacturing industry deal with geographical claims.”

Annually, Australia’s Prosecco exports are worth $60 million and are predicted to rise over the next decade to $500 million.

Prosecco grape vines were first imported from Italy in 1997, with the name for the grape used to make Prosecco since been changed to Glera.

Prosecco was regarded globally as a grape variety until 2009, however was recognised as a GI by Italian law through the creation of a Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC) across the Veneto and Friuli regions. Prosecco is the name of a town outside of Trieste.

In 2013, the European Commission attempted to register Prosecco as a GI but was unsuccessful as the Australian Grape and Wine Inc argued it was the name of a grape variety.

In December, the Australian Government annouced it would spend $417,000 to establish a wine export label directory in a bid to protect Australian wine brands from copycat and fake labelling

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