Court rules US-made cheese can be called 'Gruyere'

Wheels of Gruyere cheese sit on a shelf in the cheese and dairy section of Rungis wholesale food market in Rungis, France, on Thursday, Jan. 15, 2015. Photographer: Marlene Awaad/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A US appeals court has ruled that the name "Gruyère" is a common label for cheese and cannot be reserved for cheeses from the Gruyère region of Switzerland and France.

"Like a fine cheese, this case has matured and is ripe for our review.  For the reasons to follow, we conclude that the term "GRUYERE" is generic as a matter of law and affirm the decision of the district court," the court said in its ruling. 

The United States does not have the same strict rules Europe does regarding the names of certain food and drink based on their point of origin. 

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An industry group representing cheese producers from Switzerland and France had asked for the term ‘Gruyère’ to be trademarked in the U.S, bt the US Patent and Trademark office refused. The industry group then filed a suit.

"In sum, the Consortiums cannot overcome what the record makes clear:  cheese consumers in the United States understand "GRUYERE" to refer to a type of cheese, which renders the term generic," the court concluded.

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According to Reuters, the group said that they were disappointed by the decision and would continue to "pursue vigorously" their efforts to protect the name. 

The US Food and drug Administration does have some standards for cheese to be labeled as "Gruyère." The cheese must have "small holes" and has been aged for at least 90 days.