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Archived updates for Wednesday, February 27, 2008

ECJ: "Parmesian" Infringes PDO for "Parmigiano Reggiano"

In Commission of the European Communities v Federal Republic of Germany (Case C-132/05 February 26, 2008), the European Court of Justice held that "Since the Federal Republic of Germany has therefore failed to show that the name ‘Parmesan’ has become generic, use of the word ‘Parmesan’ for cheese which does not comply with the specification for the Protected Designation of Origin ‘Parmigiano Reggiano’ must be regarded for the purposes of the present proceedings as infringing the protection provided for that PDO under Article 13(1)(b) of Regulation No 2081/92."

As noted by IP Kat Jeremy,

The European Court of Justice rejected the argument that a PDO enjoys protection only in the exact form in which it is registered. It accepted that PDOs could become generic, citing the examples of Camembert and Brie [says the IPKat, that's a big concession: under Article 13(3) of the Regulation, "Protected names may not become generic."], but concluded that Germany had not proved that Parmesan had itself become generic: unauthorised use of the term was thus an infringement. The court nonetheless dismissed the Commission's action.

The key bit of the decision is Article 10(4) of the Regulation. When it provides that,

‘[i]f a designated inspection authority and/or private body in a Member State establishes that an agricultural product or a foodstuff bearing a protected name of origin in that Member State does not meet the criteria
of the specification, they shall take the steps necessary to ensure that
this Regulation is complied with …’,
this indicates that the designated inspection authority and/or private body in a Member State is that of the Member State from which the PDO comes -- in this case Italy, where Parmesan comes from, or at least ought to come from -- and not Germany itself.
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April 06, 2009 11:43 PM  

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