The Supreme Court has made a broad interpretation of the concept of evocation of a Protected Designation of Origin (a case expressly prohibited by the Community Regulations that protect these figures of quality) in a pioneering judgment handed down on 18 July 2019.
After more than 7 years of dispute and two resolutions in first and second instance against, the highest Spanish Court has given the reason to the Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) Queso Manchego /Manchego Cheese, which has been represented during the process by the law firm “Berenguer y Pomares abogados”.
The Supreme Court concludes pointing out that the use of signs in cheese labelling which reproduce Don Quijote figure, his horse Rocinante and landscapes with windmills and sheep constitutes an evocation of the PDO Queso Manchego / Manchego Cheese. Furthermore, the Supreme Court revokes the registered trademark “ROCINANTE” because it is an evocation of the PDO Queso Manchego/ Manchego Cheese.
The resolution has been issued after the interpretation of the evocation concept given by the Court of Justice of the European Union in its judgment of 2 May 2019, in response to a preliminary ruling raised by our Supreme Court. The maximum interpreter of the European Union legislation establishes that the evocation of a PDO is not limited to the denominative elements and it can be produced by figurative signs. The evocation is also forbidden even when the figurative signs are used by a producer located in the region (in this case, La Mancha).
In the recent judgment, the Spanish Court has understood that the figurative elements consisting of the Don Quijote figure, windmills, etc. have sufficiently conceptual proximity and they are directly related with the region of La Mancha, meaning that the perception of those signs in cheese leads the consumer to think, as a reference image, in Queso Manchego/ Manchego Cheese.
This judgment is a very important milestone regarding the fight against labels which, in a subtle way and with the aim of misleading the consumer, include graphic elements, signs, maps, etc. directly associated with geographical areas linked to products of differentiated quality.