A few days ago, a photograph of a bottle of Dutch tequila began circulating on the web. The creators of this product, which has not yet hit the market and probably never will, claim to have improved the taste of original tequila, based on Dutch gin, and now feel ready to enter the European market.
On March 20 2019, in a ceremony held at the European Commission, the European commissioner of agriculture handed over to the undersecretary of foreign affairs of Mexico, the certificate of registration granted to tequila, recognising it as a spirit with geographical indication in the markets of the countries of the European Union.
Mexico signed an agreement in 1997 with the EU on the mutual recognition and protection of spirits from third countries. In 2012, the Tequila Regulatory Council (CRT), with authorisation from the Mexican government, asked the European Commission to also recognise the denomination of the origin of tequila in its internal law.
The European Commission granted that recognition. Tequila was thus protected under EU regulation 110/2008 at the same level as European beverages, which only Guatemalan rum and pisco in Peru have achieved.
Therefore, no one can use the geographical indication tequila for any identical product, similar product, or services, without the authorisation of the CRT. It is also forbidden to use a name "similar in degree of confusion." In case of imitations or use of the word tequila without permission, the CRT can take criminal action.
In 2018, Mexico exported almost 19 million litres of tequila to the EU, but the United States remains the country to which Mexico exports the most. The National Chamber of the Tequila Industry (CNIT) expects 2019 exports to grow from four to five percent.
According to the CRT, since 2002 more than 50 thousand litres of fake tequila have been confiscated in the world. More than half of these seizures occurred in countries in the EU.
While the European Union and Mexico celebrated new agreements to protect tequila, two Dutch businessmen decided they could improve the taste of one of the most iconic and traditional beverages in Mexico. As a result, they want the recognition given to tequila to be withdrawn, since they consider it a generic term that should not be exclusively used by Mexico.
We will watch this case carefully, since the Dutch businessmen threatened to file legal appeals to make use of the name as, according to them, tequila is a generic name. They should know that the geographic protection of tequila only reinforces a denomination of origin protected by international laws. This is not the only case of its kind in the courts. The litigation with the French beer Desperados continues.
The CRT has explained that the way in which the beer Desperados tries to circumvent the denomination of origin of tequila is buying some authentic tequila and evaporating it to flavour millions of litres of beer. The Mexican norm establishes that in order to sell a mixed drink "with tequila" it is necessary for it to represent 25% of the content of the product. If it were made "from tequila", then that content would have to reach at least 51%
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