If you see the word “Napa” on a bottle of wine, you should have the reasonable expectation that the wine was made from grapes grown in the Napa Valley.
You should have a similar expectation when it comes to domain names—that a website called Napa.wine, for instance, would deal strictly with Napa Valley wines or topics.
The same goes for all other winegrowing regions around the world. It’s important for consumers, so as to avoid confusion, and it’s important for wineries, to protect their brands.
The Napa Valley Vintners organization has been very active on this front, and provided an update in a press release.
Agreements are in place with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers that prohibit registering country names recognized by the United Nations in front of extensions such as .wine and .vin, the release noted. However, Napa, Napa Valley and many other renowned wine regions might not be protected, meaning they could be registered by any entity for any purpose, including deceptive purposes.
The Napa Valley Vintners organization, along with other famous wine regions like Champagne, is advocating for secondary level protection of geographic indications to curtail the interests of those who might misappropriate the names of any number of quality wine regions.
“Consumers worldwide need to know where their wine comes from,” said Sam Heitner, director of the Office of Champagne, USA. “Place names like Napa Valley and Champagne are integral to consumer understanding and to differentiating wines from different regions. As more and more consumers gain information online, we believe it is imperative that adequate safeguards be put in place to protect wine growing place names, and stand with Napa Valley in their efforts to ensure this happens before the .wine and .vin strings are approved for use worldwide.”
Noted Ray Stults, NVV’s government relations director: “Our work to protect the Napa Valley name from piracy will never be done. Sadly, there are many in the world who wish to illegitimately use our good name for their own profit and gain.”