The protection of the name ‘Aceto Balsamico di Modena’ does not extend to the use of the non-geographical terms of that name such as ‘aceto’ and ‘balsamico’ and ‘aceto’ and ‘balsamico’ are common terms.
Curia press release: " The name ‘Aceto Balsamico di Modena (PGI)’ (balsamic vinegar from Modena, Italy) has been registered since 2009 1 in the register of protected designations of origin (‘PDO’) and protected geographical indications (‘PGI’).
Balema is a German company that produces and markets vinegar-based products made from wines from the Baden region (Germany). It uses on the labels of those products the terms ‘balsamico’ and ‘deutscher balsamico’, which are included under the legends ‘Theo der Essigbrauer, Holzfassreifung, Deutscher balsamico traditionell, naturtrüb aus badischen Weinen’ (Theo the vinegar brewer, matured in wooden barrels, German balsamic vinegar, traditional, naturally cloudy, made from Baden wines) or ‘1. Deutsches Essig-Brauhaus, Premium, 1868, Balsamico, Rezeptur No 3’ (first German vinegar brewery, premium, 1868, balsamic, recipe No 3).
Consorzio Tutela Aceto Balsamico di Modena, a consortium of producers of products designated by the name ‘Aceto Balsamico di Modena (PGI)’, requested that Balema refrain from using the term ‘balsamico’. In response, Balema brought an action before the German courts seeking a declaration that it has the right to use that term for those products. [...]
The Court emphasises that the registration of the PGI at issue and the protection deriving from it cover the name ‘Aceto Balsamico di Modena’ as a whole, as it is that name that has an undeniable reputation on the national and international market. In contrast, the non-geographical terms of that PGI, that is ‘aceto’ and ‘balsamico’, and their use in combination and in translation cannot benefit from that protection, especially because the term ‘aceto’ is a common term3 and the term ‘balsamico’ is an adjective that is commonly used to refer to a vinegar with a bitter-sweet flavour."
Full press release here.
C-432/18 - ECLI:EU:C:2019:1045