In April Greek MP Emmanouil Fragkos filed a complaint with the European Parliament regarding the Islandic company MS Iceland Dairies producing and selling ‘feta’ cheese products.
‘Feta’ is a protected designation of origin held by Greece, which means that only Greece, and not any other country, can brand its cheese as ‘feta’ if it conforms with certain rules of production.
Protected designation of origin is a name of a region, place or country used to describe a product originating in that area. In order to qualify for a PDO, certain qualities or characteristics of the product must be exclusively due to a particular geographical environment in that area. The examples of PDOs include champagne, prosciutto di Parma, Parmigiano Reggiano.
Iceland is not a member of the EU, however, it is a part of European Economic Area which means that it is subject to certain laws of the single market. Moreover, it signed an agreement with the EU back in 2016 regarding protection of PDOs.
As a result of complaint, MS Iceland Diaries confirmed that it intends to change the names of its products shortly.
Briffa comment: It might be tempting for businesses to use a famous name to brand or describe their produce to make it more appealing to consumers, for example to use the word ‘champagne’ in the name or description of a sparkling wine even if it is not produced in Champagne region. However, if such a name (like champagne) is a protected designation of origin, a legal action may be taken against a business which may subsequently be forced to change the branding of their produce.
Therefore, obtaining legal advice on the branding of your produce will allow you to reduce the risk of wasting thousands in legal fees on defending potential legal actions and then re-branding and instead invest it in your business.
If you would like to discuss how best to obtain protection for your brand please do not hesitate to get in touch with us on firstname.lastname@example.org or 020 7288 6003 and one of our specialist IP lawyers will be happy to have a consultation with you without charge.
Written by Anastasia Troshkova, Solicitor