So, if you're an absinthe producer—or have even the vaguest plan to become an absinthe producer—and you have the means to respond, I strongly urge you to do so.
If you feel you don't have a dog in this fight, you're mistaken. The Swiss government is well-known for exerting pressure where needed in order to protect their national identity and products associated with it. If this measure passes—and it will if unopposed—you can expect the fight to come to your door fairly soon. I just spoke with David this morning, and I assure you the sense of urgency in the letter below is not exaggerated.
May 23, 2010
Dear Absinthe Producer,
On March 31, 2010, the Swiss Interprofession filed for an IGP (Indication de Provenance Géographique) for the Val-de-Travers that specifically and independently protects not only the words the words "La Bleue", but also "Absinthe"and "Fée Verte".
Switzerland and the European Union are bound by several treaties, including the Agreement on Exchange of Agricultural Products dated April 30, 2002, and in particular, Appendix 8 relating to Wines and Spirits. As a result, E.U. producers will soon no longer be able to use the word "absinthe" as a product description. It's likely that this restriction would be extended to US producers (and in practice distributors) as well.
We strongly feel this action is inappropriate, as the word "absinthe" itself refers to a plant, and a type of liquor historically derived from it. The term "absinthe" does not refer to a specific region of Switzerland, nor does it imply that absinthe cannot be produced outside of the Val-de-Travers, as history proves that absinthe (including absinthe of the highest quality) was and is produced in other countries, including France, Spain, Portugal, the Czech Republic, Germany, Austria, the USA and others. From the Belle Epoque through the present day, the Val de Travers has in fact accounted for only a tiny fraction of worldwide absinthe production, and in the modern era only an infinitesimally small fraction of green absinthe production.
Our legal counsel has indicated this IGP will be approved unless swift action is taken to oppose it within 90 days of the filing date, which is less than 30 days from the time this letter was written.
The consequences of this IGP being adopted unmodified will be catastrophic for absinthe producers outside the Val de Travers, and also for those companies in Europe and the US which distribute and sell non-Val de Travers absinthes.
There is some local opposition to the IGP in Switzerland itself from absinthe producers outside the Val de Travers, but if this is successful it may simply lead to the IGP being modified to include all Switzerland - no use at all to producers elsewhere. What is needed is urgent and concerted action from producers and distributors worldwide to stop this historical and geographic travesty in its tracks.
We are writing this letter to request your urgent support to fight this action. Without adequate support, E.U. producers will no longer be free to use terms like "Absinthe" and "Fée Verte". Our legal counsel is confident that the Swiss petition can be defeated, but there is no time for delay.
You may be aware that this legal team successfully overturned the French decree on fenchone and pinocamphone recently, and we have complete confidence in their professionalism and ability to defeat this matter.
We are asking for your participation, which is requested in the amount of one thousand Euros (€ 1.000,00). Your contribution will provide the support we need to fight this petition, and no more will be asked of you. The money will go directly to the account of the legal team, who have agreed to undertake this work at a substantially reduced tariff. Any surplus funds received will be returned by them to the donors on a pro-rata basis.
Please forward payment directly to NIXON PEABODY, our legal representatives at the coordinates below, reference the phrase "ABSINTHE IGP" together with your name and business when making payment, and inform us of your payment via email. Please advise if you have any questions, but please do so quickly, as we have less than 30 days to respond.
The clock is ticking, and time is running out. If everyone sits on their hands and hopes for the best, the IGP will be approved. We must act now, with the greatest urgency to stop this. Please join this urgent campaign immediately.
Ted A. Breaux firstname.lastname@example.org
David Nathan-Maister email@example.com
Arnaud de Senilhes
Avocat à la Cour Associé
32, rue de Monceau
75008 Paris, France
+33 (0) 170723600
Nixon Peabody International, LLP
Crédit Agricole de d'Ile-de'France
Bank Code – 18206
Guichet Code – 00432
Account – 60235222423
IBAN – FR76 1820 6004 3260 2352 2242 332
BIC – AGRIFRPP882
Publication de la demande d'IGP pour l'Absinthe,la Fée verte et La Bleue
L'Office fédéral de l'agriculture publie aujourd'hui dans la Feuille officielle suisse du commerce, la demande d'enregistrement en indication géographique protégée (IGP) des dénominations «Absinthe», «Fée verte» et «La Bleue» .
Les trois dénominations désignent un seul et même produit, une boisson spiritueuse élaborée à partir d'alcool éthylique d'origine agricole, d'eau et d'un mélange spécifique de plantes. Leur enregistrement comme IGP a notamment pour objectif d'éviter les imitations et usurpations et de protéger tant la renommée que l'originalité du produit. La zone géographique de transformation est le district du Val-de-Travers dans le canton de Neuchâtel .
Né dans le Val-de-Travers à la fin du XVIIIe siècle, ce produit a rapidement connu un succès important, qui a contribué au développement économique de cette région. Au-delà de sa valeur gustative intrinsèque, ce produit doit également sa notoriété à plusieurs autres éléments, notamment aux rites complexes qui accompagnent sa dégustation ainsi qu'à la passion qu'ont suscité ses supposés vertus et méfaits. Même la période de prohibition, qui a duré de 1910 à 2005, n'a pas suffi à étouffer le lien unissant ce produit avec son terroir du Val-de-Travers. La réputation de l'Absinthe n'a cessé de croître, au gré de son histoire mouvementée et des mythes qui l'entourent .
Le registre des appellations d'origine ou des indications géographiques permet de protéger les noms géographiques ou traditionnels désignant des produits agricoles et des produits agricoles transformés dont l'identité et les principales caractéristiques sont déterminées par leur origine géographique. Lorsqu'un nom est protégé, son utilisation est réservée aux producteurs de l'aire géographique définie, pour autant que ceux-ci respectent un cahier des charges précis. La publication des demandes d'enregistrement est soumise à une enquête publique. Toute personne justifiant d'un intérêt ainsi que les cantons peuvent s'opposer à l'enregistrement pendant un délai de trois mois .
Le registre fédéral des appellations d'origine et indications géographiques compte actuellement 27 enregistrements: 19 AOC et 8 IGP. La documentation est disponible sous www.blw.admin.ch (Thèmes > Production et ventes > Désignation des produits et promotion des ventes > Appellations d'origine) .
Google translation (with a little fixing up):
Publication of the application for PGI Absinthe, the Green Fairy and The Blue
The Federal Office of Agriculture published today in the Swiss Official Gazette of Commerce, the application for registration of protected geographical indication (PGI) of the names "Absinthe", "Fée Verte" and "La Bleue".
The three names designate a single product, a spirit drink produced from ethyl alcohol of agricultural origin, water and a mixture of specific plants. Their recording as PGI's objectives is to avoid imitation and theft and to protect the reputation as the original product. The geographical area of transformation is the district of Val-de-Travers in the canton of Neuchatel.
Born in Val-de-Travers in the late eighteenth century, this product has quickly gained an important success that has contributed to economic development in this region. Beyond its intrinsic flavor characteristics, this product also owes its fame to several factors, including the complex rituals that accompany the tasting and the passion that prompted its supposed virtues and evils. Even the period of prohibition, which lasted from 1910 to 2005, was not enough to stifle the link between the product and its terroir of Val-de-Travers. Absinthe's reputation has grown steadily, according to her turbulent history and myths surrounding it.
The register of appellations of origin or geographical indications can protect geographical or traditional designating agricultural products and processed agricultural products whose identity and key characteristics are determined by their geographical origin. When a name is protected, its use is limited to producers of the defined geographical area, provided that they meet a set of specifications. The publication of applications for registration shall be subject to a public inquiry. Any person with a legitimate interest and the townships may oppose the registration for a period of three months.
The federal register of protected designations of origin and geographical indications currently records 27 registrations: 19 AOC and 8 IPG. The documentation is available at: www.blw.admin.ch (Themes> Production and Sales> Description of products and sales promotion> Appellations of Origin).