– Brent Carlson-Lee

One reason trademark rights exist is to protect brand and product identities from the ill effects of confusion in the marketplace.

So it’s hard to imagine a scenario where exclusive naming rights could in fact create confusion.

But here it is.

“As part of trade talks, the European Union wants to ban the use of European names like Parmesan, feta and Gorgonzola on cheese made in the United States.” See full article here.

Since the names have long been generic, it could lead to significant confusion among US consumers. I mean, what would that substance in the green can be called if it weren’t called Parmesan cheese?

The reality may be the collective perception of US consumers is that Parmesan cheese only comes in a can, not in blocks like this.

While the EU is hoping to boost its agricultural exports, this approach doesn’t seem likely to have a significant impact on this front. The consumer market in the US could be roughly segmented into a very large segment (typical consumers who purchase Parmesan cheese in a can) and a relatively small segment (consumers who pay a substantial premium for “real” Parmesan cheese).

Parmesan can consumers would certainly not begin to pay a premium for Parmesan cheese in block form. So the EU would be reliant upon a relatively small (but likely growing) segment of “real” Parmesan consumers to switch from American-produced Parmesan cheese to Italian-produced Parmesan cheese.

Sounds like a bunch of bologna to me.