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Georgia Works to Protect Its Goods Abroad

By Salome Modebadze
Thursday, January 6
On January 3rd Kviris Palitra newspaper published an article about how Georgian products have been sold under an Armenian name in France. The author of the article Khatuna Paichadze, retold the story of a Georgian emigrant who had failed in arranging a Georgian supra for New Year's Eve. The hero of the story Nugzar Sulashvili, happened to find Saperavi wine at one of the Russian super markets in Montauban France, but remained disappointed at the fact that the bottle had been advertised as Armenian wine.

The shop administration said they were unaware of the issue since this wine had been imported to France from Germany. The Arame Company appeared to be the “producer” of the Saperavi “from the precious Armenian wine collection." The astonished Georgian emigrant contemplated whether Georgia had sold the exclusive right of production to the neighboring country or not. “Is it possible that such famous Georgian brands like Kvanchkara, Saperavi, Kindzmarauli, and others are known as Armenian wines in Europe, especially when Armenian wines have a terrible taste and differ from authentic Georgian wines?” Sulashvili worried.

Wine is not the only example of counterfeit products on the European market. There are lots of other products in Russian shops like Khachapuri (cheese pie), Churchkhela, and Gozinaki which are being sold under Armenian titles in Paris, Marcel, Lion, Bordo and Strasbourg. “But the most disturbing part is that Georgian emigrants using these products don’t express their protest!” Sulashvili stated. The situation is the same in the U.S. as well. Georgian wine and mineral waters are being sold at special shops and pharmacies as the best medical sources from Armenia. Interested in the fate of Georgian products, Sulashvili found an Armenian firm in California and immediately informed the Georgian Embassy and after a couple of days, the "mighty" Georgian-Armenian partners told him to calm down. “I realized that something was very wrong; everyone knew everything and had their shares in the profit,” Sulashvili explained.

In reality, it’s not Armenia’s fault but ours. Georgian legislation has to protect local brands properly. Unfortunately, Georgian production companies are not eligible to take any action against counterfeits abroad. Irakli Gvaladze, Head of Sakpatent National Intellectual Property Centre said he asked the French Embassy in Georgia to make the proper inquiries about the issue. Gvaladze explained to the media that mineral waters and wines named after their origin are protected under the Lisbon Treaty while Saperavi is a breed and not a location, which unfortunately hasn’t been registered as a Georgian brand yet. “If the case concerning Borjomi will be proved, French authorities will surely react to the violations. Now we are just checking the validity of the information,” Gvaladze said stressing that Sakpatent has been actively working with the Ministry of Agriculture on registering Churchkhela, Gozinaki, and other national products which were mentioned by the Georgian emigrant.