EU Supreme Court finds flaws in Swiss cheese trademark claim – POLITICO

The Swiss cheese Emmental, famous for its many holes, cannot be deposited in the European Union, ruled on Wednesday the Court of Justice of the EU.

“The term ‘Emmentaler’ cannot be protected as an EU trade mark for cheeses,” the CJEU said in its ruling.

The mark, the court held, is “descriptive of a type of cheese for the relevant German public and is not perceived as an indication of the geographical origin of that cheese”.

As such, “it does not benefit from protection as a collective mark”, ruled the court.

Originally produced in the German-speaking Emme Valley in the region of Bern, Emmental is one of the best-known Swiss cheeses. In 2021, 10,772 tons were exported worldwide.

The cheese has been produced under a protected designation of origin (PDO) in Switzerland since 2006, but lobby groups say it is widely copied abroad. The PDO is only valid in Switzerland, but has no jurisdiction in the EU.

The CJEU ruling upheld an earlier ruling by the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), which rejected an application by Emmentaler Suisse, a group of companies seeking to register the cheese trademark depending on its origin. Giving it EU-wide protection would have made it illegal for EU cheese makers to use the name “Emmentaler”.

The Emmental lobby then appealed the EUIPO decision to the CJEU. The court’s decision is a victory for Germany and France – which backed the patent office in the case – who will be able to continue selling locally produced cheese under the name ‘Emmentaler’, or ‘Emmental’ in French .

The Emmental case is the latest legal dispute over Swiss cheeses.

In a similar legal battle in March, a US court ruled that the term “Gruyère” – a common label for cheese in the US market – could not be reserved for a type of cheese from the Gruyère region of Switzerland and France.


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