Interprofession du Gruyere v. U.S. Dairy Export Council

Docket Number: 22-1041
Opinion Date: March 3, 2023

Appellants are a Swiss consortium, Interprofession du Gruyère (“IDG”), and a French consortium, Syndicat Interprofessionel du Gruyère (“SIG”) (together, “the Consortiums”), who believe that gruyere should only be used to label cheese that is produced in the Gruyère region of Switzerland and France. Seeking to enforce this limitation in the United States, the Consortiums filed an application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) to register the word “GRUYERE” as a certification mark. Appellees, the U.S. Dairy Export Council, Atalanta Corporation, and Intercibus, Inc. (together, “the Opposers”), opposed this certification mark because they believe the term is generic and, therefore, ineligible for such protection. The USPTO’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (“TTAB”) agreed with the Opposers and held that “GRUYERE” could not be registered as a certification mark because it is generic. The Consortiums filed a complaint challenging the TTAB’s decision in the United States district court. The district court granted summary judgment for the Opposers on the same grounds as articulated in the TTAB’s decision.
The Fourth Circuit affirmed and concluded that that the term “GRUYERE” is generic as a matter of law. The court explained that the Consortiums have not brought evidence bearing on whether, at an earlier point in history, the term “GRUYERE” was in common use in the United States. But even assuming that was the case, this argument still fails. In sum, the Consortiums cannot overcome what the record makes clear: cheese consumers in the United States understand “GRUYERE” to refer to a type of cheese, which renders the term generic. View “Interprofession du Gruyere v. U.S. Dairy Export Council” on Justia Law

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