ARE YOU THINKING OF SELLING REBLOCHON OR GORGONZOLA?October 24th, 2014
If you’re thinking of opening a shop to sell cheese you make called “Reblochon” or “Gorgonzola”, you should be aware that the Canada - European Union Free Trade Agreement protects 179 geographical indications concerning foods and beer. This new protection is an extension of measures that have been in place since 2003 between Canada and the European Union but that have been limited so far to certain wines and spirits.
Your cheese shop will not be able to sell a cheese called “Reblochon” unless it was already doing so prior to October 18, 2013, the date of the agreement in principle between Canada and the European Union. Your new business making and selling cheese that looks, tastes and smells like the real Reblochon will unfortunately have to find another name.
With a few exceptions, the restriction for Reblochon will also apply to the 178 other geographical indications protected under the Agreement.
However, if you decide to make Gorgonzola, you could sell it under that name provided you describe your product using the words “kind”, “type”, “style” or “imitation” to avoid confusion with the region of Italy it comes from. These prohibitions and restrictions will not apply if you were selling a product under the name “Gorgonzola” in Canada before October 18, 2013.
Note that the same types of restrictions concerning Gorgonzola also apply to Asiago, Feta, Fontina and Münster cheeses.
Still a fan of Gorgonzola? You should also be aware that the Agreement will set up rules that would prohibit you from importing Gorgonzola that is not produced in Italy from Wisconsin (which produces a well-known Gorgonzola) or other locations. These rules will also apply to the 178 other geographical indications that are protected under the Agreement.
As a result, any business selling agro-food or alcohol products would be well advised to read the Agreement to ensure that the name of the product it would like to sell is not part of the 179 geographical indications currently protected under the Agreement. Click here for a list of geographical indications protected by the Agreement. This list will likely grow.
Canada also obtained exemptions concerning the English and French versions of certain geographical indications. The Agreement protects the word “Schwarzwärlder Schinken” but allows the use of the words “Black Forest ham” and “jambon Forêt-Noire”.
The Free Trade Agreement was signed on September 26, 2014 and requires the approval of the European Council and the European Parliament. Implementation legislation must also be passed by the Parliament of Canada and each Canadian province. At this stage, it is uncertain whether approval of the Member States of the European Union is required and the issue will likely be debated when the Agreement comes before the European Council for approval.
Our specialists at BCF will be pleased to advise you concerning the names of agro-food or alcohol products that you can or cannot use in view of the geographical indications protected under the Agreement.