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Jan 30, 2020

The European Court of Justice concluded that the protected geographical indication (PGI) of Aceto Balsamico di Modena does not extend to the individual words equivalent to ‘balsamic’ and ‘vinegar’.

In the case presented to the Court the words ‘balsamico’ appeared on vinegar produced in Germany which consequently does not meet the criteria established for the PGI of Italian balsamic vinegar. However, the Court notes that the given protection in principle relates to the name in its entirety as it is included in the register of protected designations of origin and protected geographical indications. Furthermore, the protection can only relate to other elements in that name insofar these do no constitute generic or common terms. In the view of the Court, the word ‘aceto’, meaning vinegar, is a generic term. The word ‘balsamico’ on the other hand has no geographical significance but is rather commonly used for vinegar as is the case for ‘Aceto balsamico tradizionale di Reggio Emilia’ which is A registered PGI for another type of Italian vinegar. In addition, the protection of individual elements ‘Aceto’ and ‘Balsemico’ had already been challenged by Germany and Greece at the time of adoption of the PGI ‘Aceto Balsamico di Modena ’. These member states had argued that similar names were already in use for products in their respective markets.

European Court of Justice; Case C-432/18 (ECLI:EU:C:2019:1045) - link

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