In the United States, Gruyère cheese is considered a type of cheese, not a type. So the name is not protected.
Gruyère is a recent Swiss cheese specialty. However, that is not entirely true. Gruyere is also available in France. A U.S. court recently ruled that cheese makers in the United States can also produce croutons. Gruyere producers from Switzerland and France have sued their American counterparts. The latest cheese is not considered a brand, but a type of cheese.
Trademark protection is exaggerated
Philip Bardett is angry. Names of origin similar to Gruyère AOP may be preserved in Europe, but not in the USA, complains the director of IPG, the Gruyère Producers Association. “The United States does not recognize a system that attaches a name to a region.”
For a long time, Switzerland did nothing to protect all of these product names.
Although he failed in his case, he now wants to pursue the verdict. He also criticizes: Switzerland has exaggerated trademark protection for cheese. “For a long time, Switzerland did nothing to protect all of these product names. That’s wrong.”
The European Union is fighting in the United States for the best protection of regional products such as Parmesan or Rockford. Switzerland now relies on the support of its major neighbors. Bartett says: “The discussions on the AOP side are good. But when it comes to the rest of the negotiations with the EU, you know where we stand. That should be a disadvantage. “
Emmy’s milk processor is the largest exporter of Swiss cheeses like Kroyer. The ruling did not surprise employer Urs Ryder. The best protection of the brand would definitely be better. But the reality of America is different. “As a rule, a distinction is made between ‘import’ and ‘domestic’ (Editor’s note: ‘import’ and ‘domestic’). If you are willing to spend so much money on cheese in the United States, you can make that change when you buy it.”
Descendants of cheese makers in the United States make cheese
In the cheese business in particular, there are countless descendants of immigrants to the United States who make cheese locally according to the traditional recipes of their Swiss ancestors – and also produce US Gruyere. Emmy protects its own brands directly in the United States. Lawyers continue to protect the team’s brands, file formats or logos. “Lawyers there are closely monitoring all new applications. Decide for yourself whether or not to appeal. Updating these trademark records annually is part of the job.
Swiss implementation overseas with joint ventures and joint liability is in the common interest of the business.
This is an important step, confirms Stephen Sabo of the Swiss Institute for Intellectual Property (IGS). Product names must be seriously protected, otherwise they will quickly become an umbrella for a product category. Cruer is considered a type of cheese in the United States, not a brand. Similar examples are nylon, flip-flops or the board game MacHust. “Brands, especially for trendsetter products, are sacrificing their own success,” says Sabo. And competitive benefits from the development work of pioneers. It is therefore also important that Swiss brands are generally protected overseas.
“This is not just a matter for the central government or the IGS. Swiss implementation abroad with joint forces and collective responsibility is in the general interest of the economy. For this purpose, the Swiss Enforcement Association was established last year. But Emmy boss Reidner warns that more political commitment is needed, especially in terms of international cooperation. That is: Negotiations are needed to protect Swiss trademarks, not just court rulings.
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