The Perrier case

22 April 2010

Isabelle Leroux, Bénédikte Hattier

On 25 October 2006, the Vergèze[1] town council decided to change the name of the area known as “Les Bouillens”, into "Source Perrier – Les Bouillens” (Perrier Spring.

The council’s aim was to prevent the delocalisation of Perrier water production by officially associating the name of Perrier with the town.

Nestlé, owner of the “Perrier”, trade mark took legal action to have this decision cancelled, considering that this decision would allow third parties located in the area to use the name “Source Perrier” without the company’s authorisation.

On 14 January 2008, the French administrative Court of Nîmes ruled in favour of the town, on procedural grounds.

Nestlé lodged an appeal against this judgment, considering that it was detrimental, not only to its trade mark, but also to its freedom of enterprise.

On 10 December 2009, the administrative Court of Appeal of Marseille reversed the decision. It considered indeed that the town was not entitled to change the name of an area, which was the result of an ancient custom.

This very unique decision, mainly based on grounds of public law, has the incidental consequence of confirming the protection of Nestlé‘s trade mark.

 







[1] Vergèze is a little town located in Southern France, near to which the Perrier spring is situated