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ECJ – Balsamico not a protected designation

Published: 28 Jan 2020

Balsamic vinegar can also come from Germany. According to a judgment of the ECJ from December 4, 2019, “balsamico” is not a protected term (Az. C-432/18).

We at the commercial law firm MTR Rechtsanwälte note that geographical designations of origin are eligible for protection because consumers associate them with a certain quality. But according to a judgment by the ECJ, balsamico need not come from Modena in Italy and can equally come from Germany.

The case concerned a dispute between an Italian consortium and a German company. The consortium had registered the name “Aceto Balsamico” for its balsamic vinegar from Modena as a protected designation of origin and protected geographical indication. It demanded that the German company cease selling vinegar products using the term “balsamico”, arguing that the name infringes a protected geographical indication.

The ECJ took a different view, ruling that the protection extends only to the name as a whole, not to individual non-geographical components. It held that aceto (vinegar) is a common term and balsamico a common adjective referring to flavor. The court found that consumers do not associate use of the term balsamico itself with geographical origin.

Lawyers with experience in the fields of copyright law and trademark law can offer advice.

https://www.mtrlegal.com/en/legal-advice/ip-law/trademark-law.html

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Firm: Addleshaw Goddard
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Practice Area: Trade & Customs

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