On August 5, 2020, for the first time in over 50 years, six new Israeli appellations of origin,for wines, were registered in the name of the "Mateh Yehuda Regional Council" with respect to the geographical area "Yehuda" (Judea) and its sub-territories "Judean Hills" and "Judean Foothills" ("the OAs"). Thus,wine producers from the Mateh Yehuda geographical area have the exclusive right to use the AOs.
The AOs were registered according to the Appellations of Origin and Geographical Indications Protection Law, 1965, which defines an appellation of origin as "the geographical name of a country, region or locality included in the name of a product and intended to convey that such product has its origin there and its quality and properties are mainly due to that geographical area, its nature and people". Israel is a party to the Lisbon Agreement for the Protection of Appellations of Origin and their International Registration, signed on October 31, 1958 ("the Lisbon Agreement") and the competent authority for registering appellations of origin in Israel is the Israeli Patent Office.Following registration of the AOs in Israel, the Mateh Yehuda Regional Council will be able to submit an application to register the AOs in additional 28 countries that are members of the Lisbon agreement.
Parenthetically, under the Law, an indication that identifies in Israel goods as originating in a given geographical area may also be protected (without registration) as a geographical indication, where a given quality, characteristic or reputation of the good is essentially attributable to its geographical origin.
As mentioned above, these registrations are first made after more than 50 years, sincethe appellation of origin "JAFFA" was registered in 1968 for citrus fruits grown in various areas of Israel. All the appellations of origin that have been registered so far in Israel, with the exception of JAFFA, originate abroad (from France, Italy and other countries that are members of the Lisbon Agreement).Israel joined as a member of the Lisbon Agreement in the 1960s, mainly to protect this particulargeographical indication– JAFFA. For decades, this appellation of origin was the only Israeli appellation of origin amongst about 650appellationsof origin registered under the Lisbon Agreement.
Over the years, the "JAFFA" appellation of originhas become anheritage asset and a major and prestigious symbol of Israeli export in general and citrus export in particular. However, in a well-reasoned ruling dated January 9, 2005, the then Registrar ofPatents, Trademarks and Designs, Dr. Meir Noam, refused to extend the protection of the JAFFA appellationof origin and ordered its removal from the Israeliappellationsof origin registry, as he found that due to the use of "JAFFA" for citrus originating from South Africa, and having the same properties as the fruits originating from Israel, "JAFFA" no longer qualifies as an appellation of origin.In an appeal filed with the Jerusalem District Court, Judge MichaelaShidlovskyOr came to "rescue" the only Israeli appellation of origin andreversed the Registrar'sruling and approved the extension of the protection of the "JAFFA" appellation of origin.
It can only be hoped that the owner of the new AOs will take good care of the new intellectual property assets.