The Daily Telegraph
Hard cheese for Europe after US ‘gruyère’ ruling
CHEESES made outside Switzerland and France can now carry the name gruyère in the United States after a recent court ruling put an end to Europe’s monopoly on the product.
The decision from the US appeals court in Virginia is being hailed as a major victory for its dairy farmers amid ongoing battles between European and American producers on the rights to use common food names such as parmesan, bologna, asiago and fontina.
In their ruling, the US appeals court said the word “gruyère” is understood more commonly among US consumers as a generic term for a type of cheese rather than a cheese made specifically from a certain region.
The ruling upholds a decision from the US Patent and Trademark Office which rejected bids from Switzerland’s Interprofession du Gruyère and France’s Syndicat Interprofessionnel du Gruyère, who asked that the name be reserved for products whose places of origin where in Switzerland and France. The groups said they will continue to pursue efforts to protect the name.
In Europe, Geographical Indications (GIS) establish intellectual property rights for specific products whose qualities are linked to the area of production. They also serve as quality control guidelines for producers and consumers.
The most common examples include Parmigiano-reggiano, which can only be labelled as such if they come from Parma, Reggio, Emilia, Modena, and parts of Bologna and Mantua, and the label Champagne, which must be produced in the Champagne region of France in order to carry the name.