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EU court rules in favour of German vinegar producer

Published : Saturday, 11 January, 2020 at 12:00 AM  Count : 400
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EU court rules in favour of German vinegar producer

EU court rules in favour of German vinegar producer

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled recently that the protected status of the name "AcetoBalsamico di Modena" does not extend to the non-geographic terms in the name. The ruling favored the German vinegar producer Balema, which uses "balsamico" and "deutscherbalsamico" to market vinegar-based products made from local wines.
A group of Italian vinegar producers registered "AcetoBalsamico di Modena" in the register of protected designations of origin (PDO) and protected geographical indications (PGI) in 2009. Balema's site where they brew vinegar was built in 2002 but is associated with a vinegar producer that has existed since 1868. When the Italian producers of "AcetoBalsamico di Modena" asked Balema to stop using "balsamico" in their labels, Balema asked the German courts to rule that it has the right to use "balsamico" and "aceto."
After a lengthy legal battle, the German courts referred the issue to the ECJ last year. The court ruled that only "AcetoBalsamico di Modena" as a whole has protected status under EU law. It did acknowledge that the name has an established national and international reputation. However, the court pointed out that both "aceto" and "balsamico" are commonly used words. The court additionally stated that "aceto" and "balsamico" appear in the registered PDOs of other vinegar producers without infringing on the protected status of "AcetoBalsamico di Modena." As such, according to the ECJ, "aceto" and "balsamico" clearly to not have protected status. The producers of AcetoBalsamico di Modena have since declared the ruling unjust, arguing that only their vinegar has the bitter-sweet flavor required to be labeled "balsamico."



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