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Chairman’s Column

Errico Auricchio

Keep Up the Good Work!

We’ve entered 2020 with a number of solid common-name successes under our belt – from the positive first phase of the U.S.-China trade agreement and the newly passed U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, to the historic pact with the Italian mozzarella consortium recognizing “mozzarella” as a globally generic term. Brick by brick, relationship by relationship worldwide, CCFN has built an extremely successful organization for defending your rights to use generic terms.

But remember: These victories come after months – sometimes years – of steady work by CCFN in coordination with member companies. And we continue to face a constant barrage from the European Union, which employs all available means to shut out competition by confiscating generic names. This is not a short battle, and unfortunately it is nowhere near over.

My company, BelGioioso Cheese, has benefited greatly from the work of CCFN. If you market products bearing generic names, then yours has, as well. And BelGioioso is in it for the long haul. More than ever, we need to stand together to continue to defend our ability to compete fairly in the marketplace – for our businesses, and for consumers.

I’m looking forward to working with you this year in support of CCFN, to keep the heat on, and to fight for what is right.

Errico Auricchio
CCFN Chairman
President and Founder, BelGioioso Cheese

us-china2CCFN Cheers Common Name Protections in Phase One China Deal

CCFN commended the U.S. Administration in January for its accomplishments in the first phase of a trade agreement between the United States and China, which creates new safeguards regarding market access for common-name products.

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woman-wine2CCFN Urges the U.S. Government to Secure “Firm and Explicit Commitments” from Trading Partners on GIs

As part of its work in pursuing a level playing field for U.S. companies, the U.S. Administration should secure “firm and explicit commitments” with trading partners to assure the future use of specific generic food and beverage names targeted by EU monopolization efforts, and reject the use of GIs as barriers to trade. This was the message CCFN shared in written and oral testimony with the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative as the agency prepares its annual review on the status of intellectual property rights protections in its trading relationships around the globe (Special 301 Report).

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australia-globe2CCFN Continues to Work with Oceania in EU-Australia and EU-New Zealand Trade Negotiations

Australia and New Zealand are in the thick of free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations with the European Union, with geographical indications (GIs) at the center of the debate in both cases. The EU has proposed 171 GI names for protection in Australia and New Zealand, among them such widely used terms as “feta”,  “asiago” and “prosecco”.

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officials2CCFN Encourages U.S. Ag Secretary to Stress Objections to GIs in European Meetings

While meeting with European officials in Belgium and Italy in January, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue reiterated the U.S. position that illegitimate geographical indications (GIs) are unacceptable.

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CCFN Calls on European Commission to Issue a List of Generic Names

In comments last month to the European Commission (EC) regarding its quality schemes, CCFN once again called on the EC to draw up a non-exhaustive list of generic names for which exclusive usage cannot be claimed.

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cheese-importersCheese Importers Concerned about EU Restrictions of Common Food Names

The Cheese Importers Association of America (CIAA) recently expressed concern to the European dairy community that the EU has co-opted many common food names through its extensive protection of geographical indications (GIs) which has resulted in reduced market access around the world for U.S. dairy exports. The CIAA represents firms and individuals responsible for importing the majority of cheeses entering the United States.

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GI News that Caught Our Eye…

haloumiHaloumi: Careful What You Wish For

Dairy farmers on Cyprus refer to halloumi cheese as “white gold” – the country’s leading export. Cypriot authorities have spent years seeking a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) for the cheese, but one ironic hurdle is that some Cypriot dairy farmers are opposed to gaining the PDO, because it would require halloumi makers to use 51% sheep’s and goats’ milk; today the cheese is made with mostly cows’ milk. Some officials estimate that gaining the PDO – supposedly designed to increase business – would cause cheese exports to drop by at least half because of a current shortage of sheep and goat milk. CCFN opposed a GI for halloumi in 2015 in light of the negative impacts this GI would create.

“Feta”-up with Denmark

The European Commission has referred Denmark to the European Court of Justice for exporting its feta cheese by that name to non-EU countries. “Feta” is a registered PDO and the name can only be used by the Greeks within the EU. Granting that PDO in 2002 created a good deal of discord, since the cheese was long produced in Germany, France and Denmark; but European courts ultimately sided with the Greeks. At the same time, EU rules didn’t prohibit use of the term outside the EU, and export of “feta” has continued to various non-EU markets. So the bickering continues. Even the Europeans know there’s a high cost to giving up a generic name.

balsamicDressing Down a Balsamic GI

Producers of Italian vinegar from the region of Modena recently lost a challenge at the EU’s highest court to stop German rivals from using parts of their protected name. The court ruled that protection of Aceto Balsamico di Modena “does not extend to the use of non-geographical individual terms” of that name. This was welcome news to German and other firms that sell vinegar-based products with names such as “aceto”, “aceto balsamico” and “balsamico”. Is this the same Court of Justice that ruled last year that only makers of Spanish Queso Manchego could use images on its label that even remotely evoke Don Quixote (think horses and windmills)? And what about the EU’s protection of terms that are not geographic, for use by a single member state – such as “havarti” (Denmark) and “feta” (Greece)? Such uncertainty will keep intellectual property lawyers in business for years to come.

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