Legal experts in New Zealand are warning food and drink producers to get ready to see the names of some of their products outlawed.

Mounting trademark pressure in the European Union is seeing more names currently used as generic terms ring fenced for use by producers in the specific regions where they originated. Greece has moved to prohibit use of the word 'feta,' while the Czech Republic is hankering to restrict the term 'pilsner'. Italy has made great advances in protecting the word 'parmesan' and Spain is well on the way to gaining exclusive rights to 'sherry'.

The argument rages on throughout the EU and beyond, but producers of food and drink products whose hitherto generic names are suddenly off limits are forced to find other ways of marketing their products. As an article in New Zealand publication Stuff describes, a simple request for "a glass of sherry and a feta salad" could be altered to longwinded formulae such as "a glass of fortified and blended wine with a salad of soft, ripened white cheese made from goat's or ewe's milk cured in brine".

Still, producers in New Zealand are being advised to get ready in good time, and some are taking pre-emptive and creative steps to do so by inventing new terms to describe their products. Wellington's Kapiti Cheeses is about to launch 'pamaro' cheese, the rebranded name for its traditional 'parmesan' product. The company ran a competition to find a new name for the cheese, at once enlisting consumer assistance and raising awareness of the issue, thus preparing consumers for the future possibility that, when looking for parmesan cheese, they might also like to consider cheeses not labelled 'parmesan'.

The company also rebranded one of its feta cheeses 'hipi iti,' which is the maori for 'little sheep'.

While the need to drop names hitherto used as generic terms is inconvenient, it is forcing marketing teams to dig deep in their creative resources and consider how best to sell their product - which can never be a bad thing.