File No. 5727/132.

The Secretary of State to the French Chargé.

No. 457.]

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge receipt of your note of July 7 last, protesting against the use, in the new commercial agreement [Page 510] between the United States and Germany, of the word “champagne” as a product of Germany, and, in reply, to inform you as follows:

The representations contained in your note have been made the subject of conference with the Department of Agriculture, which department is charged with the application of the so-called pure-food laws, with a view to ascertaining whether the statutory requirements as to the designation of the nature and place of origin of a foreign product upon the label thereof are applicable to the present case.

It is to be remarked that the provision of the commercial agreement with Germany to which you advert, necessarily follows the language of the third section of the tariff act of July 24, 1897. It reads therein, as it does also in the text of the German agreement, “Champagne and all other sparkling wines,” thus indicating that “champagne” is to be taken specifically as distinguished from all other effervescent wines; whereas in your note the word “champagnes” is employed as though it were a generic term. It has been the understanding of this department that the generic designation of sparkling wines as champagnes, although a common license of popular speech, does not obtain in Germany, and that the sparkling wines of that country are known by other designations (such as “sekt” or “trocken,” for example) and show, on the label, their name and place of origin, so that confusion of the German products with the true champagne of French origin is not likely to occur. In point of fact it may not be correct to say that champagne, eo nomine, is a German product.

The favored customs rate granted by the commercial agreement would appear, therefore, to be, in fact and practically, applicable to other sparkling wines than champagne, being the product of the soil and industry of Germany.

It is the province of the Department of Agriculture, in the execution of existing laws, to see that imported foreign products—and especially products favored by reciprocal commercial engagements—are correctly branded or labeled both as to designation and place of origin. Referring to the fact that the international convention for the protection of industrial property, signed at Paris March 20, 1883, to which the United States, France, and several other Governments are parties, recognizes the right of any Government which is a party to it to prohibit the importation of goods bearing false indications of locality of origin, the Secretary of Agriculture expresses the opinion that it will be easy to obtain the proper labeling of products coming from foreign countries as required by the food and drugs act of June 30, 1906. In the existing conditions the Secretary of Agriculture holds that the term “champagne” should be restricted to the wine which is produced in the champagne district in France from grapes grown in that district for that purpose, and he further states that he regards as misbranding the use of a label containing the term “champagne” on sparkling wines coming from any other locality save that of the champagne district as delimited by the committee appointed for that purpose by the French Government.

Accept, etc.,

Elihu Root.