Protecting your intangibles: Feta is Greek

Today, Tony Blair is seeking to re-start the re-start of Europe’s competitiveness and budget framework at an informal summit at Hampton Court (Henry the VIII’s old hang out). The talks will cover a number of topics, including the EU’s internal battle over trade. While these fights are likely to continue, the EU Court has moved ahead with strengthening one form of intangible — geographic indicators. The specific case: EU Court Gives Greece Full Rights to Feta Label

When the European Commission gave feta its protected designation of origin in 2002, it argued that natural, geographic and human factors had combined to give the cheese its specific Greek character. It said the extensive grazing of special ewes and goats on Greek terrain gave the cheese its specific aroma and flavor.
“The interplay between the natural factors and the specific human factors, in particular the traditional production method, which requires straining without pressure, has thus given feta cheese its remarkable international reputation,” the court said.
German and Danish producers also have taken the lead in campaigns to have feta declared a generic product in recognition of the fact that production has spread well beyond the cheese’s origin, and took the case to the EU’s highest court. The court ruled that wasn’t enough to claim the name, arguing several Balkan countries produced such a briny cheese for a long time, but all called it something different.

The EU’s system of protecting traditional local products covers hundreds of drinks and foodstuffs — including Denmark’s Danablu blue cheese, Welsh lamb or Germany’s Dortmunder beer.

The interplay of natural, geographic and human factors — an interesting description of what others might call “Jurisdictional Advantage”! (See MaryAnn Feldman’s discussion of that issue on the Athena Alliance website.)

One thought on “Protecting your intangibles: Feta is Greek”

  1. According to Intellectual Property Watch EU Elevates Geographical Indications As Priority For Hong Kong

    Geographical indications (GIs) have become a political issue and a key priority for the European Union in the run-up to the December World Trade Organization ministerial in Hong Kong as GIs today officially became part of the EU�s agriculture package.

    They do mention, however, that this may be a bargaining chip for the negotiations, since it is opposed by many other nations (including the US and Brazil).


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