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Australia increases consumer protection for wine brands

Published:  01 July, 2021

Australia has launched what it claims to be the world’s first system to provide product assurance for all of its branded wine exports. 

From today, every labelled wine approved for export by Wine Australia will have the label recorded in its online Export Label Image Search System (ELISS), allowing importers, distributors, retailers and consumers to check when, where and who exported the wine from Australia. 

The new system would protect overseas consumers and the Australian wine sector’s reputation by allowing labels to be checked against export records very simply, said Rachel Triggs, Wine Australia general manager for corporate affairs and regulation.

“All it will take is a device to capture a digital image and access the ELISS website and wary consumers or retailers will be able to compare a bottle label against Australian export records. This is the first time any nation has been able to offer an across the board verification of exported labels,” she said.

The ELISS system will also allow searches by brand, keywords or phrases, with brand owners able to search ELISS to identify potential breaches of their intellectual property rights. 

The launch of the system follows Australian Grape & Wine, Australia’s peak grape and wine advocacy organisation, having identified the need to establish a Wine Export Label Directory as a key step in strengthening protection for Australian wine labels against fraudulent activity. 

Triggs said the system would make it easy for consumers and distributors to identify genuine Australian wines, with about 25,000 labels per year eventually expected to be listed across 111 different destinations. 

“This is something the sector, through Australian Grape & Wine, lobbied very hard to introduce and ensure the protections were legislated. Wine Australia is now stepping up to make that protection a reality,” she said. 

The searchable images would be low resolution and watermarked, but they would allow people to establish who exported the wine, when and the destination market, she added.

“The software allows search using text or images so that potential trademark or copyright breaches can be easily identified. This will deter the production of copycat brands that seek to leverage from the well-established reputation of Australian wine brands.” 

The ELISS search system can be accessed here.

Development of the public-facing online directory was supported by the Australian government’s $50m Export and Regional Wine Support Package.