Greece wins exclusive European rights to 'feta' name

The European Union’s highest court weighed on Tuesday into a long-standing battle over the use of the feta name for cheese, ruling that it can only be used by Greek producers.

The decision marks a key victory in Greece’s long legal struggle to prevent producers elsewhere in Europe from using the feta name for white cheese soaked in brine.

In 2002, the European Commission registered the feta name for use for cheese only from Greece, prompting an appeal from Denmark and Germany—backed by Britain and France.

However, the European Court of Justice struck down the appeal on Tuesday, ruling that the Commission was right in deeming feta was not a generic term even despite its long and widespread use outside of Greece.

Despite its many imitators, “the production of feta has remained concentrated in Greece, with more than 85% of [European] Community consumption of feta, per capita and per year, taking place in Greece”, the court said.

On the sidelines of a meeting of EU farm ministers, European Commission spokesperson Michael Mann welcomed the court’s decision and urged that “the ruling should be respected”.

Mann said that a five-year transition period for farmers elsewhere in Europe, which was set when the commission registered the name in 2002, still stood.

“I hope they will make good use of this time to continue to market a good product”, he said. - AFP

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