The European Court of Justice ruled on Thursday that Denmark was violating the EU regulation on quality systems for agricultural products and foods, by allowing the production of cheese by the name of ‘feta,’ which did not comply PDO (protected designation of origin) specifications and exporting it to third countries.

This has implications for the halloumi PDO, which Cypriot producers insist should be exported as ‘halloumi’ even if it did not comply with the PDO specs.

The government, which had been alerted by the European Commission about the sale of non-PDO halloumi in Germany, on Friday told supermarkets in Cyprus to withdraw non-PDO halloumi from its shelves, within a ‘reasonable time period.’

Ironically, the Cyprus Republic, which has allowed the export of non-PDO halloumi, played an important part in the case, by arguing that PDO and protected geographical indication (PGI) constituted rights of intellectual property, that were protected by EU regulation.

Consequently, the use of PDO or PGI for defining a product, produced within the EU, that does not comply with the existing specifications, violates, withing the EU, the right to intellectual property, even if the product is destined for export to third countries.

Denmark argued that the regulation could not be applied in its case because it applied only to products sold within the EU and did not cover exports to third countries. The Court did not accept this argument ruling that such action was forbidden by the specific EU regulation.

The decision was deemed of particular importance as it made clear that PDO and PGI products were protected not only when sold within the EU. Hence, the name ‘feta’ could only be used for cheese produced within Greece’s boundaries and complies with the specifications of the product, certified by Regulation 1829/2002.

In an announcement, the law office of the Republic noted that the court decision was particularly important for EU countries that have registered PDO or PGI because it is clear that these are protected not just within the EU but also third countries.

The Republic of Cyprus was represented in the proceedings by state attorneys Elena Zachariades and Viki Christoforou.