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As we close out a very successful 2022, we wanted to take a moment to celebrate the ten-year anniversary of CCFN and look ahead to what CCFN will need as we enter the second decade of our work.
CCFN was founded in 2012 in response to emerging and increasing threats from overseas producers who sought to constrain our ability to market and sell our products using common names – like parmesan and bologna – that had long been a part of the public domain. Across continents and industries, we came together to stop the monopolization of generic names and fight for common sense.
The decade since then has not been easy. The European Union (EU) has continued to aggressively confiscate common names through the misuse and abuse of geographical indications and intellectual property laws. Frequently, they have then pressured other countries to adopt these misguided policies as a condition of a trade deal with Europe.
Exacerbating the problem has been the sizable gap between the U.S. government’s actions to tackle this issue versus the strong-arm tactics employed by the European Commission to advance its overreaching GI policies. The U.S. Trade Representative’s office has accurately recognized the threat that the EU’s GI campaign poses to American producers and exporters. But with the exception of a commitment secured with Mexico under USMCA, USTR hasn’t succeeded in securing commitments from countries to establish concrete protections for common names.
Looking ahead to 2023 and beyond, we know that the EU is not going to stop. Our best chances are to stand up and make it as hard as possible for the EU to claim for their own the names customers have known and used for generations as generic. We will continue to stay vigilant and fight for America’s dairy, meat, wine, and other producers who use common names. Succeeding in the coming decade will require far more help from the U.S. government than we have gotten in the past. We are confident that with the strong support and engagement from our members, though, we can continue to make it as difficult as possible for the EU to confiscate your right to use common terms.
Thank you for your continued support for CCFN. We are proud to represent you and your interests around the world.
Marking a Decade of Defending Common Food Names
As part of celebrating its ten-year anniversary, CCFN spoke with dairy and agriculture media about the importance of defending common food names and pushing back against the EU’s attempts to confiscate generic names from American producers. Read More
Featuring Common Name Cheeses in Europe
CCFN member, the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC), sent a delegation of staff and members to Europe in October to discuss strengthening trade relations and promoting more common-sense policies around food regulations and sustainability. Read More
CCFN Pushes the Philippines to Reject Harmful Regulations
Following a multi-year process of engagement by CCFN, the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines issued final geographical indication regulations, which took effect November 20. Read More
Highlighting Common Names Issues to USTR
Recent years have seen a growing trend of countries ignoring previously established trade commitments and laws to impose regulations that restrict the use of common names at the behest of EU trade negotiators. On December 7, CCFN wrote to U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Ambassador Katherine Tai, emphasizing those concerns and laying out the countries where those developments pose particularly acute concerns. Read More
Building Support for Common Names in Latin America
While Europe continues to try to flex its muscles through FTAs in Latin America, CCFN has been active in strengthening relationships and building a consensus around common names protections. Read More
For Your Information
Update on WIPO Standing Committee
Given its global reach with government intellectual property officials, CCFN continues to engage with and closely track World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) developments. In September, CCFN met with the WIPO Director General and several other WIPO officials in Geneva to discuss opportunities to educate WIPO members on common names. In addition, CCFN met with U.S. government officials including U.S. Deputy United States Trade Representative María Pagán and USPTO, USDA and State Department representatives. In mid-November, CCFN was an official WIPO Observer during the WIPO’s Standing Committee on the Law of Trademarks, Industrial Designs and Geographical Indications (SCT) and an accompanying GI information session. USPTO participated in the SCT meeting advocating for common sense GI policies and served on a panel discussion during the GI information session.
CCFN will continue to monitor WIPO discussions and provide input when necessary to ensure a balanced discussion of GIs and common name protections.
Other GI News from Around the World …
French Ruling Forbids Cheese Production based on “Appearance”
In yet another example of Europe’s abuse of GI protections, the Paris Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the Interprofessional Syndicate of Morbier in November, in its lawsuit against a producer in France who sold cheese that featured a black horizontal stripe (“ash line”), like Morbier.
While the lower court originally determined that the protected designation of origin (PDO) status covered only the product’s name – not appearance – the Court of Appeals ruled that the visual specification of the product could cause confusion for consumers.
This overly broad and subjective standard furthers the EU’s monopolization of GIs to seize market share and box out American producers.
China Follows Due Process Route for New EU GI Requests
On December 2nd, the China National Intellectual Property Administration (CNIPA) published for public comment a list of 173 names for which the EU is seeking GI recognition in China under the Agreement on the Protection and Cooperation of Geographical Indications between China and EU. In compliance with earlier commitments secured by the U.S. government to publish GI applications for opposition, China is inviting input on the proposed GIs before February 2, 2023. This list includes terms like fontina and Camembert de Normandie. CCFN is preparing to file evidence and comments to defend the ability of companies everywhere to continue to use common names appearing on the GI proposal list in China.
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