‘Cheese with holes’: Gruyère's IP woes in the US


Muireann Bolger

‘Cheese with holes’: Gruyère's IP woes in the US

Shutterstock / Enez Selvi

After a US appeals court gave short shrift to the role of geographical origin in a dispute over cheese, where does that leave European food producers with similar marks? Muireann Bolger finds out.

Certain premium foods and beverages such as cheese and wine may improve with age, but a US court has shown that their IP can have a much shorter shelf-life abroad.

This month, the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled that Gruyère was a generic name for a type of cheese with holesto the dismay and disbelief of European cheese makers who had argued that the name should be a geographically protected term.

The court, however, refused to recognise that the name served as a certification mark indicating a specific cheese first produced in the Gruyère region of Switzerland and France.

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