The European General Court (EGC) on Wednesday rejected the appeal made by the “Foundation for the Protection of the Traditional Cheese of Cyprus named Halloumi” against the EU Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) for trademark infringement regarding a Greek product called “Halloumi/Vermion grill cheese,” which obtained trademark registration in June 2015.
The EGC ruled that there was no risk of confusion between the Greek product and the Cypriot traditional Halloumi cheese, for which the foundation owns an EU collective trademark.
“The EGC led a comprehensive assessment on the risk of confusion between the two products, which presupposes that both goods can be found identical or similar by buyers,” an official statement released after the ruling said.
“After comparing the products, it was found that the is no likelihood of confusion between the two.”
The EGC in its ruling also added that the small degree of similarity between the cheeses, most importantly the use of the word “halloumi”, is not likely to contribute to the existence of a risk of confusion and that the buyers’ attention is more likely to be drawn to the differences between them, like the name “Vermion” found on the Greek product.
“Therefore, the element of confusion between the two products is merely verbal and does not constitute a trademark infringement,” the EGC said.
The collective wordmark “Halloumi” was registered on 14 July 2000 and remains in force across the EU, including the UK.
Under the collective community mark, halloumi is produced only in Cyprus with certain ingredients and production methods. The UK’s secession deal also provides for the collective wordmark to be applied in the UK after Brexit.