NMPF’s Castaneda Advocates for Dairy in Switzerland

NMPF’s Jaime Castaneda pushed to protect common food names at the July 10 World Intellectual Property Organization’s (WIPO) general assembly in Geneva, Switzerland. NMPF’s executive vice president for policy development and strategy represented the U.S. dairy sector as well as other manufacturers of common-food-named products.

The Consortium for Common Food Names (CCFN), which NMPF’s trade policy team staffs, holds observer status in the organization because of its leadership on protecting common names like “parmesan” and “feta.” Castaneda advocated for a balanced approach that protects the rights of common names users while still honoring legitimate geographical indications (GIs). NMPF’s engagement with WIPO – an influential organization that has traditionally supported an agenda that has favored GI interests – is critical for countering the European Union’s common name monopolization campaign and keeping markets open for U.S. dairy producers around the globe.

Castaneda also joined a non-governmental organizations session with WIPO Director General Daren Tang and met with government representatives from the United States and elsewhere who participated in the assembly.

While in Geneva, Castaneda also met with World Trade Organization (WTO) officials and government representatives on July 11-13 about the upcoming WTO Ministerial Conference taking place Feb. 26-29, 2024. Castaneda participated in sessions with the New Zealand and Australian Ambassadors to the WTO, Chairman of the Dispute Settlement Committee Marco Molina, WTO Deputy Director General Angela Ellard and several country delegations to discuss agricultural priorities for the upcoming February ministerial, including WTO dispute settlement reform and market access.

Capitol Hill Event Adds Momentum as Consortium Keeps Busy Pace

The Consortium for Common Food Names (CCFN) – an organization staffed by the NMPF trade policy team – joined Agri-Pulse in hosting a bipartisan congressional event at the U.S. Capitol to highlight the need for heightened U.S. government efforts to protect generic food and beverage terms. Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Sen. Roger Marshall (R-KS), Rep. Adrian Smith (R-NE) and Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA) shared remarks at the March 1 event on the need for a robust U.S. strategy to counter the European Union’s (EU) aggressive campaign of misusing their geographical indications system to monopolize common terms like “parmesan” and “feta” for their own use.

The hybrid virtual event also featured speakers from Sartori, Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin, USA Rice, The Wine Institute and the North American Meat Institute. Participants highlighted that American dairy farmers and other food and beverage producers continue to lose market share overseas and face costly trademark registration battles domestically just to continuing selling their products that consumers recognize as generic.

The lawmakers and industry representatives called on the Biden Administration to take action to establish firm and clear protections for commonly used food and beverage terms to safeguard U.S. export markets. NMPF and CCFN continue to work with the U.S. Trade Representative and USDA to identify avenues of advancing a proactive U.S. strategy to protect the rights of common name food and beverage producers throughout the United States.

In addition to its March 1 event, NMPF remained active on the issue of geographic indications and the importance of allowing common cheese names in February, holding a session with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Feb. 21 for Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) governments on the importance of preserving common names.

NMPF’s Jaime Castaneda, acting in his capacity as CCFN’s Executive Director, provided remarks to the APEC session attendees to underscore the negative impacts on trade and local producers when common names are restricted. CCFN members and experts rounded out the event’s speakers.

The event followed efforts on behalf of common names earlier in the year, with NMPF, in partnership with USDEC, submitting comments to USTR on Jan. 30, emphasizing its support for firm and explicit commitments assuring the future use of specific common names. The comments were in response to USTR’s request for input on its annual Special 301 review of intellectual property trade issues and supported more comprehensive comments made by the Consortium for Common Food Names (CCFN).

The European Union’s decade-long efforts to monopolize common names – like “parmesan” and “feta” – for its own producers has created a deeply one-sided playing field, restricting American producers’ ability to market and sell their products overseas. In its comments, NMPF implored the Administration to secure guarantees from trading partners that they will not abuse geographical indication rules to restrict the use of common food and beverage names.