- “Gruyère” can be used for cheeses produced in the United States, an appeals court ruled.
- It’s a victory for dairy groups in the US, but French and Swiss cheese-makers aren’t happy.
- They’ve promised to “vigorously pursue” their efforts to protect the name.
The term “gruyère” can be used for cheeses produced outside of the Gruyère region of Switzerland, a US appeals court ruled Friday.
It’s a victory for dairy groups in the US, but cheese-makers in Switzerland and France aren’t happy.
Gruyère is a firm yellow cheese named after the town of Gruyères in Fribourg, Switzerland, where it originated.
The 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, concluded that “gruyère” is a common label for cheese sold in the US and can’t be restricted to cheese from a specific region. It upheld an earlier ruling by the US Patent and Trademark Office.
“Cheese – regardless of its location of production – has been labeled and sold as gruyère in America for decades,” the court said in its ruling. “Cheese consumers in the United States understand ‘gruyère’ to refer to a type of cheese, which renders the term generic.”
Dairy groups from France and Switzerland — the Swiss Interprofession du Gruyère and the French Syndicat Interprofessionel du Gruyère — say they’re “disappointed” to have lost their bid to restrict the name to cheeses from the region of Gruyère.
“We believe that the actual situation in the US market is different from what the Court of Appeal described,” the groups’ attorney Richard Lehv told the news agency Agence France-Presse. He promised that they would “vigorously pursue” their efforts to protect the name.
Cheese names have long been a bone of contention. In the US “parmesan” cheese has become synonymous with Parmigiano Reggiano, but they are not the same thing.
To earn Italy’s official label of Denominazione d’ Origine Protetta (DOP), or Protected Designation of Origin, Parmigiano Reggiano must be produced in a particular way within the northern Italian region of Emilia Romagna.
Read more about the Parmigiano here.