Don’t Get Too Cute with “Protected Domain of Origin” Names
In a recent case appealed to the UK High Court regarding a trademark refusal “Nosecco” was found to be deceptive, and prohibited by EU law under its “Protected Designation of Origin” (PDO) for Prosecco.
Nosecco is actually a clever and memorable name, suggesting a similar-to-Prosecco non-alcoholic drink. And that’s the problem. Prosecco, along with Parmesan, Balsamic, Brie de Meaux, Sancerre, and hundreds of other food and wine names are reserved for products from specific geographies.
First used in 1411 to protect “Roquefort,” use of these protections grew when the modern French PDO law was passed in 1925. Extending now to 360 wines, 40 cheeses, six butters, and even the Le Puy green lentil, other countries soon created their own PDOs. Spain, Italy, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Portugal and the EU all protect products in this manner.
So while you may want your artisanal hard cheese to be called Farmesan, or that Brie de Faux is perfect for a soft-ripened cheese, or you can’t wait to introduce your non-alcoholic Shampagne, think again. These PDO producers and their lawyers will find you and slow or shut you down. Better to choose a unique name you can own and build into a brand, without fear of litigation for years to come.