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New image search tool for Australian wine trade marks, courtesy of Wine Australia

In 2021 the Australian government’s wine regulator, Wine Australia, introduced a database called the Export Label Image Search System (ELISS).

ELISS was introduced in conjunction with broader regulations aimed at strengthening the integrity of Australian wine labels and identifying fraudulent activity within the wine industry.

As part of these changes, Australian wine exporters seeking to export wine after 1 July 2021 are required to upload copies of their wine labels into a database known as Wine Australia’s Licensing and Approval System (WALAS).

The images and information uploaded to WALAS are then uploaded to ELISS which can be searched by distributors, retailers and members of the public.

Users of ELISS are able to identify labels legitimately exported from Australia and the markets to which these products have been exported. Further, foreign importers of Australian wines can check and make sure the stock they receive marries up to the information in the database.

Wine Australia notes: “The system is intended to provide brand owners with a tool through which they can protect their brands, and consumers with a tool through which they can verify the origin of labels.”

ELISS is a new, important and free tool in the protection of intellectual property rights within the wine industry. Its only genuine limitation is the fact that it does not contain labels pre-dating July 2021, although it is clear from using ELISS that other, older labels have been incorporated into the database dating back at least to 2017.

ELISS also has other unintended benefits:

1) firstly, wine makers looking to develop new brands can search ELISS to mitigate the risk that they are adopting a brand owned by a third party. IP Australia provides for images searches on its Trade Mark Search facility (previously known as ATMOSS) but ELISS is significantly more intuitive to use and obviously specific to the wine industry;

2) secondly, ELISS provides a mechanism for policing a brand which is more precise than Google Images. This level of specificity is very helpful in respect of overseas enforcement and customs seizure notices; and

3) finally, ELISS provides trade mark practitioners and participants in the wine sector with a useful tool to identify images and logos which may warrant trade mark protection.

We consider ELISS to be a welcome addition to the mechanisms by which trade mark rights can be developed and enforced within Australia’s wine industry.

For more information, please contact the authors:
Ebony Sweetnam | Consultant

Disclaimer: The information published in this article is of a general nature and should not be construed as legal advice. Whilst we aim to provide timely, relevant and accurate information, the law may change and circumstances may differ. You should not therefore act in reliance on it without first obtaining specific legal advice.

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