Trademarking the agave in tequila
Tequila is generally distilled within five Mexican states using only blue agave sap and in accordance with a certified process. According to this ABA Journal article, however, the demand for tequila has increased so drastically that a slew of copycat distillers have cropped up that use–in addition to traditional agave–water, sugar-cane alcohol, and additives that create a similar flavor to real tequila. In response to these cheaper knock-offs, the National Chamber for the Tequila Industry is seeking to trademark the term “agave” in order to protect it from use by copycat distillers outside the five Mexican states that have historically produced the alcoholic drink.
The tequila industry group’s director, Francisco Soltero, claims the proposal would “protect producers granted with the appellations of origin against unfair competition. It also protects consumers against unfair publicity and deceptive information.” The Federal Competition Commission, however, argues that requiring distillers who use the term “agave” to describe their drinks to go through a certified process would harm small producers. Melvin Drozen, a food labeling and advertising lawyer also has problems with this proposal. “If it’s labeled agave and it’s made from the agave plant, it’s not false or misleading,” even if it’s unconventionally produced outside the traditional tequila region.