Opposition to branding of “Agave” wins battle with IMPI
Article by Marcela Leopo Flores
Translated by Christopher Fraga
After more than a year since researchers from various universities, mixologists, producers, and civil organizations both domestic and foreign launched a fierce attack on the Instituto Mexicano de la Propiedad Industrial (Mexican Institute of Industrial Property, IMPI), which insisted on the word “agave” being used solely for distilled beverages with an appellation of origin, the director of this department, Rodrigo Roque Díaz, acknowledged that their initiative was unsuccessful and that they have no choice but to abandon it on the grounds that it does not have sufficient legal elements to be sustained.
In an interview, he said that the IMPI recognized that the word “agave” was associated with drinks with an appellation of origin that used agave as their base material, including tequila. He thus undertook a process to issue a declaration based on the law that governs and authorizes the Instituto, but the Federal Commission on Economic Competition issued a binding opinion that has blocked the process.
“Legally I can’t do anything else, because the Federal Commission on Economic Competition has blocked us from moving forward with the declaration, despite the fact that the IMPI recognized and proved that this association does exist,” Roque Días pointed out.
It is worth pointing out that the attempt to regulate the word “agave” as if it were a brand garnered protests, forums, panels, and analyses across the country. Their conclusions were almost unanimously unfavorable toward the IMPI, as they accused it of wanting to favor the large tequila enterprises that grip the market for the national drink, such as Sauza, Herradura, and Cuervo.
Academics and researchers assert that there are 200 varieties of Agave in the world, 150 of which are found in Mexico, forming part of the culture of Mexicans who use them not just to make distilled beverages but also for food, health, and the manufacture of different materials. Exclusive rights to use the word should thus not be given to the appellations of origin Tequila, Mezcal, Bacanora, and Sotol.
They also pointed out that if the word “agave” were thus regulated, so, too, would the brand “grape” have to be applied exclusively to wines.