Judge Rules Gruyere Can Be Produced in US

13 Jan 2022

A federal judge sided with U.S. cheese producers who say gruyère can be produced anywhere, not just in Switzerland and France, according to The New York Times.

In the ruling last month in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Judge T.S. Ellis III wrote, “Although the term gruyère may once have been understood to indicate an area of cheese production, the factual record makes it abundantly clear that the term gruyère has now, over time, become generic to cheese purchasers in the United States.” Under U.S. law, trademarks cannot be given to generic terms.

According to Swiss guidelines, gruyère must be made in the region around Gruyères, Switzerland, which has produced the cheese since the 12th century. It must have a slightly damp texture with average spring and crumble, be in the shape of a wheel weighing between 55 and 88 pounds, and exude fruity notes.

“We have a big problem,” said Philippe Bardet, the director of Interprofession du Gruyère, which represents gruyère producers in Switzerland. “With this decision, you can make a little cheese, a big cheese, a hard cheese, a processed cheese—and you can give the name ‘gruyère’ for all types of cheese.”

The ruling was the latest development in a long-running battle between American cheese producers and producers in Switzerland and France, who say that gruyère is anything but generic. They will  appeal the decision. Full Story

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