Consortium for Common Food Names (CCFN) and Allies Robust Defense of U.S. “Gruyere” Use

December 8th, 2021

Over the first two quarters of 2021, the Consortium for Common Food Names (CCFN) and a coalition of other U.S. dairy stakeholders aggressively defended the generic status of the term “gruyere” in the U.S. market against efforts by the Swiss and French gruyere Consortiums to monopolize use of the term.

Last year the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s Trial and Appeal Board (USPTO) rejected a Swiss and French trademark application seeking sole use of the term “gruyere”; USPTO rightfully ruled that the term was generic. Late last year the foreign Consortiums appealed that ruling to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia and CCFN has been leading efforts to maintain the precedential USPTO determination ever since.

In spring of this year, CCFN’s attorneys submitted briefs in the case and outlined during oral arguments a strong case for why summary judgement to uphold the earlier USPTO ruling was merited. At press time, a ruling in the case remained pending.

CCFN Executive Director Jaime Castaneda stated that “CCFN views this case as an important piece of our work to help companies retain their rights to use food and beverage terms long established in the marketplace despite predatory efforts by foreign interests to restrict those rights. USPTO carefully considered this issue last year and came to the only appropriate conclusion – that the wide-spread use of the term “gruyere” in the U.S. market clearly establishes it as a generic term and as such makes it wrong for any one interest group to monopolize usage of it.”