Cambozola, Great Italian Food Trade letter to the German government. And now the petition is triggered

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First an open letter to the German government, then a petition on Change.org. Great Italian Food Trade intercepted these days, in a supermarket in the Republic of Slovenia, a blue cheese produced in Germany whose name – Cambozola – and appearance mislead the consumer, unfairly evoking Italian Gorgonzola PDO. The matter is not new and has in fact already been examined, long ago, by the European Court of First Instance. But European regulations and case law have since evolved, thanks in part to the judgment evoked by Germany itself on a vulgar imitation of Parmigiano Reggiano PDO.

In an open letter to the German government, Great Italian Food Trade therefore calls for an immediate order to ban the use of the name Cambozola on cheeses that evoke Italian Gorgonzola PDO, causing harm to European consumers as well as to the production and distribution chain of authentic Gorgonzola.

Also at address is the European Commission, which-instead of dealing with the Italian law that prohibits its producers alone from producing #cheeseenzalatte-should implement an effective policy against food fraud as soon as possible.

The text of the letter follows.

Dear Minister of Agriculture and Consumer Affairs of the Federal Republic of Germany, Mr. Christian Schmidt,

and, p.c.:

Dear European Commissioner for Agriculture, Mr. Phil Hogan,

Dear Minister for Agriculture of the Republic of Italy, Mr. Maurizio Martina,

We have received news of the sale in the European Union of a German-made cheese, region of Bavaria, called‘Cambozola Classic, whose name and appearance appear to usurp for all intents and purposes the Italian cheese Gorgonzola, registered as a Protected Designation of Origin in Europe through Regulation (EC) No. 1107/1996 (1).

Under Regulation (EU) No. 1151/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of November 21, 2012, “on quality schemes for agricultural products and foodstuffs,” “Registered names are protected against:

(a) any direct or indirect commercial use of a registered name for products that are not the subject of registration, if those products are comparable to the products registered under that name or the use of that name enables the exploitation of the reputation of the protected name, including when such products are used as an ingredient;

(b) any usurpation, imitation, or evocation, even if the true origin of the goods or services is indicated or if the protected name is a translation or is accompanied by expressions such as “style,” “type,” “method,” “in the manner,” “imitation,” or the like, even where such goods are used as an ingredient;

(c) any other false or misleading indication as to the provenance, origin, nature or essential qualities of the product used on the wrapping or packaging, in advertising material or on documents relating to the product in question, as well as the use, for packaging, of containers that are likely to mislead as to its origin;

(d) any other practice that may mislead the consumer as to the true origin of the product.” (2)

In the present case, the use of the name ‘Cambozola’ on a blue cheese whose appearance is similar to that of ‘Gorgonzola PDO’ undoubtedly integrates an unlawful evocation of the latter’s name. In this regard, reference is made to the ruling on the ‘Parmesan’ case of the European Court of Justice, according to which the phonetics and visual similarity of the names, in addition to the similarity of the products, precisely integrate the usurpation of the registered name (3).

The aforementioned Regulation (EU) No. 1151/2012 gives Member States primary responsibility for the protection of names registered in the European Union: “Member States shall take appropriate administrative and judicial measures to prevent or stop the unlawful use of protected designations of origin and protected geographical indications (…) produced or marketed in that Member State” (4).

Because of the above, we are hereby requesting the government of the Federal Republic of Germany to take appropriate measures – administrative and judicial – without delay to immediately stop the illicit use of the name ‘Cambozola’ at the company Kaserei Champignon, located at Kemptener Strade 17-24, 87493 Lauben / Allgau Nemcija, identified by sanitary stamp “DE BY 77711 EG,” as per the attached photographs.

Awaiting your courteous and prompt reply, which please forward also to the European and national authorities indicated here for information, we are pleased to extend our best regards.

Lawyer Dario Dongo

Great Italian Food Trade, founder

 

Notes:

(1) Commission Regulation (EC) 1107/1996 of June 12, 1996 “on the registration of geographical indications and designations of origin under the procedure laid down in Article 17 of Council Regulation (EEC) No. 2081/92,” Annex A. Cfr. http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?qid=1435956870201&uri=CELEX:31996R1107

(2) Reg. (EU) no. 1151/2012, Article 13.1. Cfr. http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?qid=1435953012395&uri=CELEX:32012R1151

(3) “given the phonetic and visual similarity between the names in question, and the similar appearance of the products, use of the name ‘Parmesan’ must be regarded as an evocation of the PDO ‘Parmigiano Reggiano’, which is protected by Community law against such an occurrence.” Case C-132/05, judgment 26.2.08. Cf. http://curia.europa.eu/jcms/upload/docs/application/pdf/2009-03/cp080011en.pdf

(4) Reg. (EU) no. 1151/2012, Article 13.3.

 

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Dario Dongo, lawyer and journalist, PhD in international food law, founder of WIISE (FARE - GIFT - Food Times) and Égalité.