15/06/2023-Member’s Voice: The “Consorzio del Prosciutto di Parma” wins crucial cases for the PDO, by Simone Calzi, Head of Legal Department, Consorzio Prosciutto di Parma

The “Consorzio del Prosciutto di Parma” has recorded some important outcomes in a number of court cases in Germany and Italy regarding the protection of the PDO ‘Prosciutto di Parma’.

The disputes concerned various deli products, all bearing references and allusions to the PDO of Parma.

The first dispute, which largely developed on German territory, was related to the use of the name ‘Culatello di Parma’ by a company located in the province of Parma for a pre-sliced cured pork-based product marketed in some EU countries. On a rather winding path, the dispute reached the highest levels of German Courts, that issued judgments favourable to the Consorzio and therefore to the protection of the PDO at all instances – first instance, appeal, and finally at the Federal Court of Justice of the Federal Republic of Germany –. The principle established by the German judges, in line with those laid down by the EU Court of Justice in similar cases under Article 13(1)(b) of Regulation (EU) No 1151/2012, is that ‘Culatello di Parma’ unlawfully exploits the reputation of the PDO, with the inclusion in its name of the toponym ‘Parma’, and seeks to gain a commercial advantage by evoking the name ‘Prosciutto di Parma’ for a foodstuff considered comparable to the product covered by the PDO.

In Italy, the disputes concerned two foodstuffs that look different from Parma Ham, but equally classified in the same product category and defined as well as meat products. A substantial number of packages of pancetta and salami, which respectively bore on the label, in the former case, a trademark and, in the latter case, a designation, both containing the word ‘Parma’, were seized by the competent authorities. Subsequently, the release of the products was granted by the competent authority belonging to the Ministry of Agriculture Food Sovereignty and Forest on condition that any reference even indirect to Prosciutto di Parma PDO be removed. The ensuing legal proceedings that were brought by the respective operators in order to challenge the above referred releases were particularly significant: the Italian administrative Court reaffirmed what had been stated by the German courts, namely that the protection of the PDO Prosciutto di Parma extends not only to the registered name as a whole, but also to the geographical element ‘Parma’ alone, also in cases where the production companies’ plants are located in the same territory, in this case the province of Parma. Not only that, according to the principles of the EU Court of Justice, the Italian Court established that the evocation also exists between products of different types and appearance but nevertheless belonging to the same product category.

Please read here the Consorzio’s full press release.

For GI enforcement case law, please refer to the dedicated page of oriGIn’s website.

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