Zorik Gharibyan: What we oppose is monopolization

20.12.2017 | 09:45 Home / News / Articles /
#Zorik Gharibyan #Karas Wines #Zorah
Tierras de Armenia, the company working under Karas Wines brand, is involved in a lawsuit with Zorah, producer of Karas, Yeraz and Voski wines.

Mediamax talked with Zorik Gharibyan, the founder of Zorah.

The karas and winemaking

“Armenian winemakers have used the karas for 6000 years. We always count the history of everything from the Kingdom of Urartu, but people in this region made wine in earthen karases three thousand years before Urartu.

Karas is an integral part of the winemaking treasury of our country and nation.

Zorah was the first in Armenia to restore the use of karas in winemaking. I am happy that other winemakers in Armenia also use karas, reviving the tradition.

They are trying to prohibit not only Zorah from using the word ‘karas’, but everyone else too. Thus, a big and powerful company is trying to monopolize the 6000-year-old winemaking tradition.”

Restoration of traditions

“There are no more karas makers in Rind village, where our production is located. The village of Yuva has tonir masters, but the technology of karas making is different.

I have invited a master from Sisian and struck a deal with the Rind school: they give the master a classroom to teach the children pottery. The goal is to give the children basic skills, so later in life at least several of them become karas masters.

The master says that karases with the capacity I need (800-1000 liters) have never been produced in our days and he is experimenting on the ways to make such big karases along with giving classes in Rind.

There are clay pits in Armenia that had been long forgotten. We rediscovered them and sent samples to Italy to see if we can use that clay in winemaking.”

The legal side

“When we named our wine Zorah Karasi, we intended to indicate that we are making it with traditional technology, in the karas. We did not and do not have any other objective. And the company suing us doesn’t even use karases in their production.

In spring of 2011, when we applied to the Intellectual Property Agency of Armenia to register our trademarks, we were told that the word ‘karas’ can’t become a protected trademark. We replied that we meant to use the word not as a protected trademark, but as the indication that our wine is made is karases.

Contrary to what the agency said to us, in autumn of 2011 Tierras de Armenia registered ‘Karas’ as a trademark. We have nothing against it, essentially. What we oppose is monopolization.

If I had even a second-long doubt about our position, I would have stepped aside and left the issue alone, but the situation has gotten ridiculous. The first instance court ruled that the labels of Zorah Karasi and Tierras de Armenia’s Karas have “confusing similarity”!

Any person without visual impairment can testify that that statement is absurd. If I go to the European Court with this case, our Armenian court can become the laughing stock of the world.

This attempt at monopolization actually makes no sense. Tierras de Armenia is a large producer and we are a small company making boutique wines.”

Armenian karas and Georgian qvevri

“Georgian winemakers are doing a fantastic job in properly representing their qvevri (Georgian analogue to karas). UNESCO included qvevri in the Intangible Cultural Heritage List in 2011.

Our wine is sold in 24 countries now and I present Zorah in each of them. Often, when I tell about our karas technology, people interrupt me and say they know about qvevri.

In the museum of wine, La Cité du Vin in Bordeaux, Georgia exhibited the qvevris for three months.

Georgia adopted regulation that obliges every company using qvevri to indicate it on the label.”

Next steps

“I want to stay positive and I hope that the second instance court will make the right decision. At the same time, I am ready for taking this case to international courts and I have spent quite a lot on preparations already.

This is a matter of principle for me. I hope that my son and daughter will continue the business I founded in Armenia. If an unfair decision is made in this case, what am I going to tell them?”

Ara Tadevosyan talked to Zorik Gharibyan
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