Figurative signs can “evoke” a registered name. No exception for producers of the products concerned established in the regio. Presumed consumer reaction based on sufficiently direct and clear link. Relevant consumers are European consumers, including consumers of the place where the product is made or consumed consumption.
This case concerns a dispute between the Fundación Consejo Regulador de la Denominación de Origen Protegida queso Manchego ('Queso Manchego Foundation'), a foundation responsible for managing the protected designation of origin queso Manchego and a cheese manufacturer Industrial Quesera Cuquerella ('IQC'). The cheese manufacturer markets cheeses which are not covered by the protected designation of origin 'queso manchego' and which, according to the Fundación Queso Manchego, infringe the designation of origin because the labels used by IQC constitute an unlawful representation of the designation of origin within the meaning of Article 13(1)(b) of Regulation 510/2006 on the protection of geographical indications and designations of origin for agricultural products and foodstuffs. Two of the three cheeses are shown below.
The claims were dismissed at first instance and on appeal. Fundación Queso Manchego then appealed to the Spanish Supreme Court, which asked a number of questions for a preliminary ruling. The Court answers the questions as follows:
"1. Article 13(1)(b) of Council Regulation (EC) No 510/2006 of 20 March 2006 on the protection of geographical indications and designations of origin for agricultural products and foodstuffs must be interpreted as meaning that a registered name may be evoked through the use of figurative signs.
2. Article 13(1)(b) of Regulation No 510/2006 must be interpreted as meaning that the use of figurative signs evoking the geographical area with which a designation of origin, as referred to in Article 2(1)(a) of that regulation, is associated may constitute evocation of that designation, including where such figurative signs are used by a producer established in that region, but whose products, similar or comparable to those protected by the designation of origin, are not covered by it.
3. The concept of the average consumer who is reasonably well informed and reasonably observant and circumspect, to whose perception the national court has to refer in order to assess whether there is ‘evocation’ within the meaning of Article 13(1)(b) of Regulation No 510/2006, must be understood as covering European consumers, including consumers of the Member State in which the product giving rise to evocation of the protected name is made or with which that name is geographically associated and in which the product is mainly consumed."
C-614/17 - ECLI:EU:C:2019:344