20/06/2024-Withdrawal of a EUTM application in conflict with the PDO Fontina and role of oriGIn in enforcement activities in support of its members

Last May, the application for the EU collective trademark No. 018719351 (figurative) “eA estrema d’Alpeggio Valle d’Aosta extrême d’Alpage Vallée d’Aoste” for Class 29 (Cheese), was withdrawn by the applicant, the A.R.P.A.V. (Regional Association of Owners of Alpeggi Valle d’Aosta). The Consorzio in charge of the DOP Fontina had opposed the trademark and oriGIn had submitted third-party observations under Article 45 of the EUTMR. The Italian Ministry of Agriculture had also sent the EUIPO its observations.

oriGIn’s observations raised, among others, the following points:

  1. Infringement of art. 14.1 of Regulation 1151/2012 (‘direct use’ as referred in art. 13.1). The collective mark at issue (in class 29, cheese) contains the name “Valle d’Aosta”. It is therefore in conflict with the PDO “Valle d’Aosta Fromadzo” (cheese).
  1. Infringement of art. 14.1 of Regulation 1151/2012 (‘evocation’ as referred to in art. 13.1). The name “Fontina” refers to a mountain pastor cheese produced in Valle d’Aosta. As the trademark at issue contains the elements “estrema d’alpeggio” (mountain pastor) and Valle d’Aosta, it represents an evocation of the PDO Fontina. Moreover, consumers might be misled, as they could perceive the rules of A.R.P.A.V. for the production of cheese (contained in the collective trademark regulation of use) as different from the ones of the PDO. In this respect, Fontina product’s specification strictly regulates the condition under which the mountain pastor PDO is produced.

With the withdrawal of the application, the subject of the dispute ceased to exist, leading the EUIPO to declare the opposition proceedings concluded. However, this leaves open the question related to the Office practice to publish trademark applications such as the one at stake. 

Given the growing number of requests, oriGIn has developed a policy concerning its involvement in enforcement activities in support of its members. The policy can be consulted here.


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