US-made cheese can be called ‘gruyere’ too, court rules

US-made cheese can be called ‘gruyere’ too, court rules

US-made cheese can be called ‘gruyere’ too, court rules

A U.S. appeals court has ruled that in America the word “gruyere” is a common label for cheese and cannot be reserved just for the kind made originally in France or Switzerland.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does set some standards for gruyere cheese, such as the existence in it of “small holes” or that such cheese is aged at least 90 days. But it does not establish criteria on geographic origin.

“Cheese - regardless of its location of production - has been labeled and sold as gruyere in America for decades,” the court said.

And this concerns cheese produced in Wisconsin or as far away as the Netherlands, Germany or Austria, they added.

The Interprofession du Gruyere, which represents milk producers, cheesemakers and refiners in the gruyere industry in Switzerland, and its counterpart in France, had asked to have the term recorded in the U.S. registry of trademarks.

When the US Patent and Trademark Office refused to do this, the industry groups filed suit and lost in early 2022. Judges with the appeals court have upheld the lower court ruling.

U.S. dairy groups welcomed the ruling while the Swiss and French cheese federations are disappointed, their lawyer said.

“We think the actual situation in the U.S. market is different than as stated by the Court of Appeals, and we will continue to pursue vigorously our efforts to protect the certification mark for the high-quality Gruyere PDO [protected designation of origin] product in the US,” attorney Richard Lehv said in a statement.