Coalition building and association management

Insight Consulting has an established expertise in the building of coalitions and the management of associations.

A clear example of our know-how is the creation and the daily management of EFOW – the European Federation of Origin Wines.

The story began in 2003, when the French organisation of appellation of origin wine producers (CNAOC) and the Italian association of geographical indication wine Consorzi (Federdoc) asked us to help them promoting their views towards EU decision-makers. To that end, we set up a platform to facilitate the exchange of ideas and the adoption of common positions between the two organisations. Given our success on a number of important wine related issues, two other organisations (CECRV, the Spanish organisation representing wines with an appellation of origin and the Port and Douro Wine Institute, IVDP) decided to join the platform in 2006. In 2009, after 3 years of successful collaboration and the accession of a fifth member (HNT – the Hungarian organisation defending the interests of wines with an appellation of origin), we suggested the creation of a European organisation. We worked with them on drafting the statutes, finding a name, designing the website and on the launch of the European Federation of Origin Wines (EFOW: http://www.efow.eu) which took place at the European Parliament in March 2010 in presence of Commissioner Ciolos, Mrs. Lulling, the President of the wine Intergroup of the EP, and Mr. De Castro, the President of the agriculture Committee of the EP.

Since then, Insight Consulting manages EFOW on a daily basis, allowing its 5 members to entertain a regular dialogue with decision-makers and institutions at the national and European levels as well as with the media.

Fighting for new domain names and IP protection

Insight Consulting has been at the forefront of a lobbying campaign relating to the protection of GI names on the Internet.

In 2012, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) noting the saturation of the 20 existing domain names (ex. “.com”, “.org”, “.eu”) launched a call for applications for new generic top level domain names (gTLDs). More than 2,000 applications were tabled by Internet companies (ex. “.guru”, “.blog", “.bike” or “.pizza”). Among these proposals, 3 candidate companies filed an application for the ”.wine” and ”.vin”.

We advised our clients, in particular the European Federation of Origin Wines (EFOW), that these new gTLDs could be a source of economic development for the wine sector but could also represent a challenge for the protection of their Geographical Indications (GI). The main issue was that candidate companies in competition for these new gTLDs had indicated their will to sell second-level domain name (SLDs) to the highest bidder regardless of whether or not that domain name was a GI. Therefore, any business or individual would have been able to buy a SLD corresponding to a GI name, for instance "chianti.wine" or “champagne.wine”, and offer to consumers all over the world a product that had no link with that wine region. It was easy to imagine that some domain names could be solely purchased for speculative purposes. This situation was the result of neither ICANN nor the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) having developed a dispute resolution mechanism for the allocation of domain names for GIs, contrary to trade marks. It was the beginning of a three year-long battle with ICANN representatives, Internet companies and Governments defending opposite views within ICANN’s Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC). We were able to set-up a coalition of different organisations supported by Governments that backed our client’s position, in particular a strong platform of wine regions from all over the world. In the end, given the deadlock between States at the international level and ICANN’s unwillingness to create a precedent that might jeopardise international negotiations on GIs, we accompanied our clients in the negotiation of a commercial solution with the Internet company which won the competition for the “.wine” and “.vin”.

The battle is however far from over. We continue to advice and support the lobbying efforts of our clients who are calling for the creation of a dispute resolution mechanism for GIs on the Internet is on-going.

Co-authoring reference publication on geographical indication for the FAO and AFD

In 2015, Insight Consulting wrote a Regional Guidebook for GI, including trade mark, applicants from and in the ASEAN region.

This study was done for the FAO, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, and the AFD, the French Development Agency.

It includes a Part 1 on the GI applicants guide which covers:

- National legislations of the ASEAN countries concerning the applications at national level. It includes a “fiche” on the national legal framework for the protection of geographical indications and of trade marks per country.

- A GI applicant guide, containing all the relevant information for stakeholders which want to register their product in the ASEAN countries

- An explanation of the way protection can be secured the international level.

Part 2 contains a comparative study on registration of GIs in the ASEAN countries as well as recommendations for a possible harmonisation.

The study will soon be available.