Greece has announced it and seven other EU member states may launch legal action over Beijing’s refusal to ban China-registered trademarks of products falsely marketed as traditional EU-made foods.
The Greek Economy and Development Ministry has claimed France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Portugal, Romania and Spain have agreed to join forces with Athens to finance a case in the Chinese courts.
A suit would seek to annul trademarks for ‘Greek feta’ cheese, ‘Spanish’ olive oils, and ‘Italian’ balsamic vinegar, products made outside their traditional European production regions.
The legal action – if launched – could threaten the success of ongoing European Commission negotiations with China over the mutual recognition of more than 100 geographical indications of traditional food and drink items from either jurisdiction. As it stands, feta, balsamic vinegar and Spanish olive oil is on a draft list of such products.
However, Greece says Beijing is refusing in negotiations to cancel established Chinese trademarks for products that falsely imply they are traditional and European.
Athens claimed that without such action “their Chinese owners will have the right either to produce them domestically or to import homonymous counterfeit products from the whole the world”.