US court docket says French, Swiss teams can not limit 'gruyere' cheese label


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The title “gruyere” can be utilized to label cheeses from exterior of the Gruyère area of Switzerland and France, a U.S. appeals court docket mentioned on Friday, in a victory for U.S. dairy teams and others.

The Richmond, Virginia-based 4th U.S. Circuit Courtroom of Appeals upheld a U.S. Patent and Trademark Workplace (USPTO) ruling that “gruyere” can legally be used to explain cheese no matter the place it was made.


A shelf with Swiss Gruyere cheese is pictured on the opening day of the Worldwide Agriculture Truthful ‘Inexperienced Week’ (Gruene Woche) in Berlin on January 20, 2023. (Tobias Schwarz/AFP by way of Getty Pictures / Getty Pictures)

The USPTO rejected a bid by two teams representing cheese producers from Switzerland and France for a mark that may limit the usage of “gruyere” to cheese from Gruyère itself.


The teams mentioned in a press release that they had been dissatisfied by the choice and would proceed to “pursue vigorously” their efforts to guard the title.

U.S. Dairy Export Council president Krysta Harden mentioned in a press release that the choice was an “excellent consequence for producers and farmers right here in the USA.”


Cows are grazing in a discipline throughout a misty morning close to Bulle, western Switzerland on Could 8, 2022.  (Fabrice Coffrini/AFP by way of Getty Pictures / Getty Pictures)

Gruyère cheese, “extensively thought-about among the many best of all cheeses,” was first made within the Swiss district of La Gruyère in 1115, the court docket mentioned. The U.S. Meals and Drug Administration has requirements to certify gruyere cheese, however the court docket mentioned they’re “far much less stringent” than Switzerland and France’s and don’t embrace geographic restrictions.


Switzerland’s Interprofession du Gruyère and France’s Syndicat Interprofessionnel du Gruyère requested the USPTO in 2015 to certify that gruyere cheese solely comes from the Gruyère area. However the USPTO rejected the request after discovering gruyere is a generic, unprotectable phrase for a kind of cheese.

Gruyeres cheese

Switzerland. canton Fribourg. Gruyeres. Gruyeres. conventional cheese.  (Hermes Pictures/AGF/Common Pictures Group by way of Getty Pictures / Getty Pictures)

The European teams appealed after a Virginia federal court docket upheld the ruling in 2021.

“Like a positive cheese, this case has matured and is ripe for our assessment,” Chief U.S. Circuit Choose Roger Gregory wrote on Friday for a unanimous three-judge panel that affirmed the choice.

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The case is Interprofession du Gruyère v. U.S. Dairy Export Council, 4th U.S. Circuit Courtroom of Appeals, No. 22-1041.

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