Emmentaler=type of cheese≠Cheese from Emmental

In case T2-21, the European Court of First Instance (CFI) refused to register “EMMENTALER” for “cheese with the protected designation of origin Emmentaler” as an EU trade mark.

By its judgment, the General Court found the mark descriptive. The Court considers that the relevant German public understands the sign EMMENTALER directly as a designation for a type of cheese, which is a ground for refusal.

Second, as regards the protection of the mark applied for as a collective mark, the Court points out that collective marks may consist of signs or indications which may serve to designate the geographical origin of the goods or services concerned. However, that exception must be interpreted narrowly. The exception does not cover signs which are to be regarded as indicating the kind, quality, quantity, intended purpose, value, time of production or any other characteristic of the goods in question, but only signs which are regarded as indicating the geographical origin of those goods.

Since the mark applied for is descriptive of a type of cheese for the relevant German public and is not perceived as an indication of geographical origin for the cheese in question, the Court concludes that it does not enjoy protection as a collective mark.

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