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News blog13 October 2020Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises2 min read

New tool to prove date of creation; the battle of the Gruyère

Good morning everybody. Hope you all had a good start of the week, as usual, and enjoying cooler temperatures. For this week’s news:


Launch of WIPO PROOF

WIPO just announced the launch of “Wipo Proof” a new service that provides a date and time stamp, proving the date of creation of the document bearing it. This system, enables you, in case of dispute, to prove the date of creation of the controverted material. Remember, this is not a registration tool and will not grant you any right, per se; it will just help you prove that you were the earlier creator in case of infringement by plagiarism. This mechanism is similar to what was has already been created by INPI France (enveloppe Soleau) or the BOIP (i-DEPOT).


“Gruyère” in the US

Back in 2015, Swiss and French industry groups sought a certification mark (a mark that is used to demonstrate that a certain product complies with a certain set of standards) for “Gruyere” in the US on the basis that the mark would serve as a certificate that the cheese is from the Gruyere region of Switzerland and France. 

The U.S. Dairy Export Council and other American groups filed oppositions, arguing that Gruyere is actually a generic term. 

The trademark Trial and Appeal Board of the US noted that the term Gruyere derives from a geographic region in Switzerland, has been produced in France for hundreds of years, and has been given protection as an AO in the EU. However, the Board finally decided in favour of the opposition, declaring the term gruyere as generic.

The Board applied the following genericness test:

  • what is the genus of goods or services at issue?
  • does the relevant public understand the designation primarily to refer to that genus of goods or services? 

Using this test and on the basis of evidence provided, the Board determined that the genus of goods is cheese and that consumers of cheese understand Gruyere to refer to a category of cheese that is not limited to a specific geographic region but rather can come from anywhere.  As such, the Board found the term generic and ineligible for protection as a trade mark. This means that, for the time being, American companies are allowed to produce cheese and name it “gruyere”.

This was back in August. Now, an appeal has been filed and Swiss and French producers are still fighting for the protection of Gruyere, seeking for the decision of the Board to be overturned.

This is all for this week!


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Publication date
13 October 2020
Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises