A draft Bill, dedicated to the development, the activity and the economic equal chances1, is currently discussed before the French Parliament.
In connection with the legislative process underway, an Article aiming at amending the Loi Evin(which sets the rules applicable to advertising for alcoholic beverages and tobacco products) has been inserted in the draft Bill; this with the aim at bringing more flexibility to the strict framework enacted in 1991, in particular in order to distinguish advertising (covered by the prohibitions and restrictions set by the Loi Evin) and information (which should remain outside the scope of theLoi Evin).
The author of this amendment (a Senator) justified his initiative by the fact that the Loi Evinneeds to be modified, in light of the way certain judges have interpreted and enforced it (with a very extensive approach).
What caused this initiative: Certain court decisions did sanction editorial content (articles in newspapers) relating to alcoholic beverages as being illicit advertising for alcoholic beverages2(in particular because the health message was absent from these editorial contents) because of a use of a very extensive definition of advertising, in particular the one used by a Paris court in 2007 according to which: “an advertising action is not necessarily targeting/directed to one trademark, a manufacturer or a dealer, but can have a general purpose to promote a product in general”3. Another court decision also challenged an editorial content because it did enhance alcoholic beverages in connection with a festive setting4.
This amendment is quite controversial among the supporters and the opponents to any change to be brought to the Loi Evin (in particular Mr. Evin himself and the French Health Ministry who are clearly against it).
It has been modified with the aim at reducing its scope, while maintaining the modification of theLoi Evin with a practical approach, as regards the enforcement of same against communications which are evidently not advertising for alcoholic beverages.
To date, this amendment reads as follows:
“Is not deemed advertising or a propaganda according to the chapter herein, the content, image, representation, description, commentaries or references related to a production region, a toponomy, a reference to a geographical indication, a terroir, an itinerary, a production zone, a know-how, a history or a cultural, gastronomic or landscape heritage, related to an alcoholic beverage which benefits from a quality or an origin identification, or protected under Section L665-6 of the Rural and Fishing Code.”
The purpose of this amendment is to distinguish advertising (strictly limited under the Loi Evin) and the public communications which are not destined to promote a trademark but rather a region, a terroir, a know-how…etc. and which should not be deemed advertising and should therefore not fall within the Loi Evin’s framework.
This amendment will be discussed before the French Sénat in July 2015 and, unless further modified, it should somewhat clarify the Loi Evin scope of application.
TO BE CONTINUED…
1Law entitled “Loi Macron”; Mr. Macron is the French Ministry of the Economy.
2First degree Tribunal of Paris, December 20, 2007 (newspaper : Le Parisien): a cover page of the newspaper entitled “The triumph of the champagne” with a picture showing a glass slightly inclined, as well as an article, inside the newspaper showing 9 bottles of champagne to illustrate the article entitled “they taste good and are not too expensive”;
3First degree Tribunal of Paris, June 26, 2007 (newspaper : Les Echos) : a special edition dedicated to wine with pictures of glasses containing liquids which do make people think that they are champagne or wine and references such as “wine and champagne, the new stars”, or “from wine plant to glasses, women’s times”;
4First degree Tribunal of Paris, March 21, 2013 (magazine: Paris Match) : article concerning people and festive events with images related to these event (e.g.; “Scarlett Johnson and 5Rumer Willis : the glamour in curves” with a picture of Scarlett Johnson holding a bottle of the champagne Moët et Chandon and a picture of her before a pyramid composed by 6Bacarat’s glasses and holding a bottle of the champagne Moët et Chandon).