Verdict in line with the sentence of the EU Court of Justice. Satisfaction for the Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese Consortium

Reggio Emilia, 23rd April 2008 - First clamorous effect of the judgement of the Court of Justice of the European Communities on the “Parmesan” case.
After two years of legal battle and a suspension of judgment awaiting the sentence of the EU Court, the Berlin Court – commercial division - condemned the Allgäuland-Käsereien company "to abstain from the production, promotion, supply and sale of cheese under the denominations "parmigiano", "bioparmesan" and "parmesan" if the cheese has not been produced within the area of origin and in compliance with the Parmigiano-Reggiano production standard.
This serious verdict (envisaging fines of up to 250,000 euro or, subordinately, terms of imprisonment of up to two years with fines to be applied also to those selling the product bearing the illegitimate denomination, in the event of violations of the ban) was passed two months after the judgement of the Court of Justice (26th February 2008), which established that the use of the term “Parmesan” is prohibited for any cheese other than Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.
"The verdict of the Berlin Court – underlines Giuseppe Alai, the Consortium’s chairman – is very important because it concretely implements the principles stated by the judgement of the European Court of Justice on 26th February. This is, therefore, a clear demonstration that the judgement was a true success and not a “half victory”, as someone maintained, since the verdict of the Berlin Court corresponds to that of the Court of Justice and it was pronounced only after a suspension awaiting the European Court’s decision”. “Although there is an EU regulation protecting PDOs which certainly need to be enforced more effectively - concludes Alai – clearly, protecting our product on European markets will be simplified since judgments against those who imitate or use the denomination “Parmigiano-Reggiano” are essentially already pre-determined”.
Great satisfaction was expressed also by the Consortium’s Director, Leo Bertozzi, who personally followed the case along with the Law Firm “GB Avvocati” from Reggio Emilia.
“This verdict - states Bertozzi – demonstrates that a true protection is possible when working tenaciously and seriously. And this result reinforces the commitment to continue monitoring the market”. Bertozzi also invites consumers and business operators to: “report any anomalous situations found in Italy and abroad because this is the only way to protect consumers more effectively and, at the same time, to eliminate situations causing unfair competition”.
The case started in 2006, when the correspondents and supervisors sent by the Consortium reported the presence of bulb-shaped bottles by Allgäuland-Käsereien containing grated cheese, as well as pieces of cheese called "parmesan", which was proven to have nothing to do with Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese by subsequent tests (the cheese even contained additives, such as lysosome, which is banned in the production of the Italian PDO product). In the month of November of the same year, after unheeded warnings to the German producer (who also used the colours of the Italian flag on the packaging), the Cheese Consortium took legal action with the additional assistance of the Berlin Law Firm Preu Bohlig & Prtners. During the first hearing, the Court decided to await the judgement of the European Court of Justice, published on 26th February 2008, which confirmed that the term Parmesan must exclusively refer to Parmigiano-Reggiano PDO.
On 25th March, the Berlin Court held an open court hearing where the Consortium appeared to reassert its case and, in the light of the decision by the European Court of Justice and previous sentences (June 2002), the panel of judges condemned the German company.