Cyprus Mail

EU Court of Justice ruling gives halloumi a boost

The European Court of Justice has overturned a ruling that a Bulgarian cheese called BBQloumi can be registered with an EU trademark after an appeal filed by the Halloumi Foundation in Cyprus.

The court ruled that the name BBQloumi may be similar enough to halloumi that buyers could be tricked into thinking BBQloumi products come from Cyprus.

The trademark fight is part of a broader campaign by Cyprus to protect its cheese from competitors by getting the EU to give it special status as a geographically protected cheese made only on the island.

Thursday’s ruling is significant for halloumi makers, as it overturns a lower court decision that had cleared the way for BBQloumi to be registered as a trademark.

The case, which was brought by the Foundation for the Protection of the Traditional Cheese of Cyprus, an association representing halloumi makers, was sent back to Europe’s General Court.

They will need to take into consideration whether people might see BBQloumi as an original product from Cyprus.

The Bulgarian cheese is produced by a company called MJ Dairies and in 2014 they applied to get the name BBQloumi trademarked.

The EU Intellectual Property Office, which tasked with approving trademark applications, initially ruled that BBQloumi could be given a trademark, a decision that was approved by the General Court in 2018.

The basis of the decision was that although the two names are very similar there was no likelihood of confusion for the public.

However, the high court on Thursday overturned the initial ruling and sent the matter back to the lower court, where it will be further analysed.

“The likelihood of confusion must be understood as being the risk that the public might believe that the goods or services covered by the earlier trade mark and those covered by the trade mark applied for all originate from members of the association,” the official statement published by the European Court of Justice said.

It also urged the General Court to “determine whether there is a risk that the general public may wrongly believe that the goods or services offered under the BBQloumi mark originate from an undertaking affiliated with the association which is the proprietor of the Halloumi mark.”

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