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« Court Report -- Part II | Main | Webcast on Patent Settlement Agreements »

May 19, 2016


On the EU "GI" system, I think it a bit misleading to state that it distinguishes domestic products from imports. The hundreds of producers in the one small region of France that produce Roquefort cheese from ewes' milk and mature it in the special fungus spore laden atmosphere of the caves in that region are just as vigilant against imitations made in the industrial heartlands of the EU as they are against North American or Asian or New Zealand "Roquefort".

The UK used to have a trademark registration system that included "collective marks" and "certification marks" to protect appellations like "Roquefort". How about the USA? If not GI's are there instead collective marks or certification marks? Suppose I put "Napa Valley" on the label of my rotgut supermarket red. What would happen next?

I like Roquefort cheese and do not like the idea of it and all the other GI-protected food products going the way of "Cheddar" cheese, which used all to come from Somerset, England. Do you have Cheddar in the USA? Everywhere else in the world does.

Hey Kevin,

If the US ends up before the WTO for violations of TRIPS due to the broken and nonsensical Mayo/Alice framework as is or as applied by the courts to patent-eligibility, our USTR may have to tread more carefully with respect to the 301 Report.

Dear Max:

As you can see, the Report is driven from a U.S. perspective. I concede that there is a need for drawing a line, for example, between champagne and Prosecco or other sparkling wines; think the USTR is intending to combat circumstances with less historical and perhaps legitimate (as in product-related) (ab)uses of the GI system.

Thanks for the comment.

OK Kevin, you think there is a need for "drawing a line". In that, I think you are ahead of the USTR, which writes:

"Ensuring that the grant of GI protection does not deprive interested parties of the ability to use common names, such as parmesan or feta;"

because I do not know what is meant by a "common name" or an "interested party". Parma Ham, for example. There will always be food or drink producers "interested" in selling their product under the guise of the certificated product of members of a Producers' Association. In England, the "champagne" cases were in the 1960's (if I remember right). Much more recently was the dispute about who could sell "Parma Ham" in England. I don't know how many North Italian farmers are certificated members of the Parma Ham Producers' Association but I bet it runs into the hundreds. And on pain of expulsion, they all follow the "common" Rules of the Association (including what they are allowed to feed their pigs). Are any of the big American (North or South) pork-producing operations "interested" in selling a "great value" product that they wish to call "Parma Ham" but are not inclined to join the Producers' Association? I bet they are.

I wonder if there is anything about any of this in the latest T-TIP draft. After all, from "a U.S. perspective", as you point out, the trans-Atlantic trade imbalance on Roquefort cheese must strike one as unfairly one-sided and can't be right. Or can it?

Why Australia has been on the US watch its under the special 301 report provisions of the US act ????? any idea????

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