Gruyere cheese can still be called gruyere even if not from Switzerland, judge rules


Category:  News & Politics

Via:  perrie-halpern  •  2 weeks ago  •  11 comments

By:   The Associated Press

Gruyere cheese can still be called gruyere even if not from Switzerland, judge rules
Gruyere cheese does not have to come from the Gruyere region of Europe to be sold under the gruyere name, a federal judge has ruled.

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T

FALLS CHURCH, Va. — Gruyere cheese does not have to come from the Gruyere region of Europe to be sold under the gruyere name, a federal judge has ruled.

A consortium of Swiss and French cheesemakers from the region around the town of Gruyeres, Switzerland, sued in U.S. District Court in Virginia after the federal Trademark Trials and Appeals Board denied an application for trademark protections.

The consortium said gruyere — often a mild, smooth-melting cheese that's a favorite for fondues — has been made to exacting standards in the region since the early 12th century and cheese made outside the region can't truly be called gruyere, similar to the argument that champagne can be only be applied to sparkling wines from the Champagne region of France.

But the U.S. Dairy Export Council and other groups opposed the trademark protection. They said American consumers understand the gruyere name to be generic, applying to cheeses of a certain style regardless of their place of origin.

In a decision made public last week, U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis ruled against the Swiss consortium, finding that American consumers do not associate the gruyere name with cheese made specifically from that region. While similar trademark protections have been granted to Roquefort cheese and Cognac brandy, Ellis said the same case can't be made for gruyere.

"It is clear from the record that the term GRUYERE may have in the past referred exclusively to cheese from Switzerland and France," Ellis wrote. "However, decades of importation, production, and sale of cheese labeled GRUYERE produced outside the Gruyere region of Switzerland and France have eroded the meaning of that term and rendered it generic."

Among other things, he cited the fact that the Food and Drug Administration regulates use of the gruyere name and that none of the requirements specify its place of origin.

The gruyere consortium is appealing Ellis' ruling.

Shawna Morris, a senior vice president for trade policy with the U.S. Dairy Export Council, said the legal battle over gruyere is part of an increased effort in Europe to seek international trade protection for a variety of products, including gorgonzola, asiago and feta cheeses and bologna lunch meats.

"We're thrilled that the judge made a great call here, in our view," she said.

The European consortium did not return an email seeking comment. In court papers, its lawyers argued that Swiss and French gruyere is "painstakingly made from local, natural ingredients using traditional methods that assure the connection between the geographic region and the quality and characteristics of the final product." They said allowing others to use the gruyere name would confuse American consumers.


jrDiscussion - desc
Buzz of the Orient
Professor Principal
1  Buzz of the Orient    2 weeks ago

I'll have to make sure that the only Gruyere cheese I ever buy is marked "Made in Switzerland"  Note that if you think you're getting Swiss cheese when you buy a cheese called Swiss cheese, you probably aren't. If you want a REAL Swiss chees that tastes better and looks like what you THINK is Swiss cheese, buy Emmenthal cheese..  

Hal A. Lujah
Professor Expert
2  Hal A. Lujah    2 weeks ago

Lol.  As if the US respects food trademarks from abroad ever.  Go to the wine shop and you will find “Chianti” made by Barefoot.  Do you honestly think Barefoot imports their low grade cheap swill from Italy and sells it for the same price as their other crap?  Next time you’re at a fancy steak house and they offer you a Kobe steak, understand that the US typically imports under 100 lbs of true Kobe steaks per year and ask yourself what the likelihood of one landing on your plate is.  And when the waiter asks if you’d like some Parmigiano Reggiano shred on your salad, ask to see the label.  99 times out of 100 it ain’t that.

Trout Giggles
Professor Principal
3  Trout Giggles    2 weeks ago

LOL! I didn't know this was a problem

Hal A. Lujah
Professor Expert
3.1  Hal A. Lujah  replied to  Trout Giggles @3    2 weeks ago

Many countries take great pride in their food products, with government inspectors regulating every step of their production before a particular label can legally be placed on it before bringing it to market.  Not only does the US not do this, but we don’t even respect the trademarks that these countries work so hard to protect.  You’d be shocked at how delicious real olive oil is, because it is virtually nonexistent in the US.  This is an interesting and informative book on the subject.


Buzz of the Orient
Professor Principal
3.1.1  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  Hal A. Lujah @3.1    2 weeks ago

At least I know I'm eating AUTHENTIC Chinese food every day.  LOL

Junior Principal
3.1.2  epistte  replied to  Hal A. Lujah @3.1    2 weeks ago

 The french and Italians are very serious about food origins and labeling.

Professor Principal
3.1.3  Kavika   replied to  epistte @3.1.2    2 weeks ago

Doxies are very serious about hot dogs being labeled correctly.

Professor Principal
4  Ender    2 weeks ago

How in the world can the food and drug administration regulate the name of cheese but nothing else...

Professor Guide
5  1stwarrior    2 weeks ago

bologna lunch meats.

Didn't know that Oscar Meyer was in Europe.

Junior Principal
5.1  epistte  replied to  1stwarrior @5    2 weeks ago

 The proper name of that sausage is Mortadella.  What we call Bologna is a cheap imitation.

Professor Guide
6  1stwarrior    2 weeks ago

So, the Munster family is responsible for Munster cheese?


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