Milestone Win as USPTO Says Gruyere is Generic

August 30th, 2020

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO) Trademark Trial and Appeal Board has rejected a trademark application filed by French and Swiss gruyere manufacturers to trademark the generic term “gruyere” in the United States, finding that the term gruyere is a generic style of cheese. This decision handed a decisive win to CCFN and a coalition of other U.S. dairy sector stakeholders after a lengthy opposition.

CCFN, working alongside several of its members, as well as non-member companies that contributed to supporting the opposition filing, dedicated extensive time and resources throughout the litigation to demonstrate to USPTO that all cheesemakers and their customers had the right to continue to sell gruyere in the United States.

“This is a victory for consumers as it preserves a variety of choices for shoppers in the cheese case by safeguarding a term that has been used by cheesemakers outside of Europe for many years,” said CCFN Executive Director Jaime Castaneda. “We support the rule of law, which clearly guided the USPTO in making this decision.”

Castaneda added, “[USPTO’s] decision on gruyere allows all cheesemakers, not just those in France or Switzerland, to continue to create and market this common name cheese – that’s something we should all celebrate.”

While an appeal is possible in the case, CCFN views this decision as extremely positive and in keeping with other notable positive developments in recent months. For example, Italy’s asiago consortium (Consorzio Tutela Formaggio Asiago) last year finally dropped its efforts to register a U.S. trademark for exclusive use of the term “asiago” in the United States in the face of steadfast efforts by CCFN and the USPTO’s recognition of the generic nature of that term.