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Desperados Beer And Tequila Reach An Agreement

Actualizado: 6 oct 2021

Tequila is made in Mexico out of the agave plant

Can a beer be labeled as having tequila flavour, if it contains only 1% of this ingredient? This is the controversy that Desperados, a beer brand within the Heineken group, has been facing since 2017 with the Tequila Regulatory Council (CRT). The two parties reached an agreement this July putting an end to the conflict.

Desperados includes the word "Tequila" in its label

Mexican-inspired Desperados beer is well known for its tequila flavour, that is obtained incorporating the imported Mexican spirit into the recipe. The CRT had considered the beer to be an adulterated product since products with tequila should, according to their standards, carry a minimum of 25% tequila. The Geographical Indication (G.I.) "tequila" is protected in the European Union since 1997 under bilateral agreements signed with Mexico and enjoys the same protection as, for example, Rioja or Champagne wines. This is why anyone using the term "tequila" in the EU needs to submit to the CRT requirements.

The CRT had initiated several lawsuits and actions in Europe (France and the Netherlands) against Heineken, and in Mexico against his tequila supplier, Tequilas del Señor, denying them the certification that allows its export to Europe. In response, the interest group Brewers of Europe lodged a complaint with the European Commission on the basis of World Trade Organization rules. According to this complaint, CRT is allegedly putting illegitimate barriers to trade by blocking the tequila exports from Desperados' supplier. The EU Commission's investigation was unfortunately not conclusive.

Uneven results with the Commission and in the different courts have motivated the agreement, the terms of which are confidential. It's good to see this problem go but it's a real pity for practitioners and GI geeks - we will be deprived of a court decision that could be very helpful to determine the area of ​​protection of a GI. In the meantime, we may continue to enjoy a chilled tequila-flavored Desperados.


Interested in GIs? You may now read for free the full issue on Geographical Indications of the Oxford Journal of Intellectual Property Law and Practice.

Our partner Adrián Esquivel has contributed to the issue with a piece exploring the impact of EU diplomacy on the Central American coffee sector.

Esquivel & Martin Santos

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