23/12/2020 – CJEU-Morbier: Clarification of a fundamental aspect of GIs protection in the EU

thumb european court of justiceFollowing the opinion of Advocate General Pitruzzella delivered on 17 September concerning Case C 490/19 opposing the “Syndicat interprofessionnel de défense du fromage Morbier” and “the Société Fromagère du Livradois SAS”, on 17 December the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) rendered its decision. By interpreting art. 13(1) of Regulation No 1151/2012, the CJEU clarifies two crucial points concerning the protection of GIs in the EU (art. 13(1) of Regulation No 1151/2012 is substantially identical to art. Article 103(2) of Regulation No 1308/2013 and to art. 21.2 of Regulation No 2019/787):

  1. First of all, Article 13(1) of Regulation No 1151/2012 do not prohibit solely the use by a third party of the registered name.
  2. Article 13(1)(d) prohibits the reproduction of the shape or appearance characterizing a product covered by a registered name where that reproduction may lead the consumer to believe the product in question is covered by that registered name. In those circumstances, it is necessary to assess whether that reproduction may mislead the European consumer, who is reasonably well informed and reasonably observant and circumspect, taking into account all the relevant factors in the case, including the way in which the products in question are presented to the public and marketed and the factual context.

The French “Cour de cassation”, which had requested the CJEU the interpretation of Article 13(1) of Regulation No 1151/2012, will now statue on the case (commercialization by the “Société Fromagère du Livradois SAS” “of a cheese product reproducing the visual appearance of the PDO “Morbier”) based on the above-mentioned principles.


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