The French agency responsible for protecting the country’s agricultural appellations of origin has filed a notice of opposition to a California winery’s application for the trademark “Beardeaux,” arguing that the use would dilute the protected term “Bordeaux” used to designate wines from southwestern France. Institut National de l’Origine et de la Qualité v. Bear River Winery LLC, No. 91240350 (T.T.A.B., notice of opposition filed March 29, 2018). The notice asserts that wines from the Bordeaux region of France are entitled to use an “appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC)” that “delimits the specific areas to which the appellation pertains, but also specifies the agricultural products from which the product may be derived and production methods and techniques that may be used to make the product.” Further, it argues that U.S. law recognizes the Bordeaux AOC “as a foreign nongeneric name of geographic significance which is also a distinctive designation of a specific grape wine.” U.S. regulations restrict the use of Bordeaux as a brand name to wines entitled to bear the AOC, according to the notice, and the proposed pun “Beardeaux” would dilute the brand by “blurring and by tarnishment” and “disparagement.”

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