First an open letter to the German government, then a petition on Change.org. Great Italian Food Trade has recently come across, in a supermarket in the Republic of Slovenia, a blue cheese produced in Germany whose name – Cambozola – and its appearance, deceive the consumer, unfairly evoking the Italian IGP Gorgonzola. Another déjà vu that was already examined, a while ago, by the European Court of First Instance. But European regulations and jurisprudence have meanwhile evolved, thanks also to the verdict referred to by the same Germany on a vulgar imitation of IGP Parmigiano Reggiano.
In an open letter to the German Government, Great Italian Food Trade asks, therefore, to order the immediate ban on the use of the name Cambozola on cheeses that evoke the Italian IGP Gorgonzola, causing prejudice to European consumers as well as to the production and distribution chain of the authentic Gorgonzola.
In cc also the European Commission which instead of dealing with the Italian law that forbids only to its own producers to produce cheese without milk (#formaggiosenzalatte) it should soon implement an effective policy against food fraud.
What follows is the text of the letter.
Dear Minister of Agriculture Mr. Christian Schmidt and Consumers of the Federal Republic of Germany, and in c.c.:
Dear European Commissioner for Agriculture, Mr Phil Hogan,
Dear Minister of Agriculture of the Italian Republic, Mr. Maurizio Martina,
We had news of the sale in the European Union of a cheese produced in Germany, Bavaria region, called ‘Cambozola Classic’, whose name and appearance seem to usurp, to all effects, the Italian Gorgonzola cheese, recognized as Protected Designation of Origin in Europe by Regulation (EC) No. 1107/1996 (1).
In accordance with Regulation (EU) No 1151/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 November 2012, “on quality schemes for agricultural products and foodstuffs”, “Registered names shall be protected against:
a) any direct or indirect commercial use of a registered name for products not covered by registration, should those products be comparable to the products registered under that name or the use of that name exploit the reputation of the protected name, even if such products are used as an ingredient;
b) any misuse, imitation or evocation, even if the true origin of the products or services is indicated or if the protected name is translated or accompanied by an expression such as “style”, “type”, “method in the manner”, “imitation” or the like, even in cases where those products are used as an ingredient;
c) any other false or misleading indication as to the provenance, origin, nature or essential qualities of the product, on the inner or outer packaging, advertising material or documents relating to the product and its use, for packaging in containers that are likely to mislead as to its origin;
d) any other practice liable to mislead the consumer as to the true origin of the product. “(2)
In this case, the use of the name ‘Cambozola’ on a blue cheese whose appearance is similar to that of ‘Gorgonzola DOP’ integrates undoubtedly an unlawful evocation of the name of the latter. On this very subject, we would like to draw everyone’s attention to the ruling for the ‘Parmesan’ case of the European Court of Justice, according to which the phonetic and visual similarity of the names, in addition to the similarity of the products, integrate precisely the usurpation of the registered name (3).
The Regulation (EU) No 1151/2012 confers on Member States the primary responsibility for the protection of names registered in the European Union: “Member States shall take the necessary administrative and judicial steps to prevent or stop the unlawful use of protected designations of origin and protected geographical indications (…), produced or marketed in that Member State “(4).
Because of the above we hereby ask the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany to adopt, without any further delay, appropriate measures – administrative and judicial – to immediately make the enterprise Kaserei Champignon, based in Kemptener Roads 17-24, 87493 Lauben / Allgäu Nemčija, identified by health seal “DE bY 77711 EG”, put an end to the unlawful use of the designation ‘Cambozola’, as per enclosed photographs.
We look forward to your prompt reply, extended also to the European and National Authorities herein mentioned in c.c.
Our Best regards
Attorney at Law
Great Italian Food Trade, founder
(1) Regulation (EC) 1107/1996, of the Commission, of 12 June 1996 “on the registration of geographical indications and designations of origin under the procedure laid down in Article 17 of Regulation (EEC) No. 2081/92” , Annex A. See. http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?qid=1435956870201&uri=CELEX:31996R1107
(2) Reg. (UE) n. 1151/2012, article 13.1. Cfr. http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?qid=1435953012395&uri=CELEX:32012R1151
(3) “given the phonetic and visual similarity between the names in question, and the similar appearance of the products, use of the name ‘Parmesan’ must be regarded as an evocation of the PDO ‘Parmigiano Reggiano’, which is protected by Community law against such an occurrence“. Caso C-132/05, sentence 26.2.08. Cfr. http://curia.europa.eu/jcms/upload/docs/application/pdf/2009-03/cp080011en.pdf
(4) Reg. (UE) n. 1151/2012, article 13.3