Italian Parmigiano Reggiano Consortium fights back against replica cheeses


NetNames, the online brand protection specialist, has partnered with the Consortium of ‘Parmigiano Reggiano’, to strengthen its trademark and protect the reputation and integrity of the denomination across the globe.

Parmigiano Reggiano is named after the producing areas, which comprises the Provinces of Parma, Reggio Emilia and Modena as well as parts of Bologna, and Mantua in Italy. Under European law, only cheese produced in these provinces complying with strict specifications may be named Parmigiano Reggiano and since 1996 Parmigiano Reggiano has been a protected designation of origin (PDO). In addition, the European Court of Justice ruled in 2008 that Parmesan is an evocation of Parmigiano Reggiano meaning that, in the EU, Parmesan is protected as well as Parmigiano Reggiano. As such, Kraft Heinz, an American food company, was recently forced to stop selling its ‘Parmesan’ in Europe as it breached European law.[1]

Parmigiano is the Italian adjective for Parma, and the adjective for Reggio Emilia is Reggiano. Outside the EU, the name Parmesan is used for cheeses similar to Parmigiano Reggiano because it is considered generic - but the name Parmigiano Reggiano is unambiguously protected.

As a result, Parmesan is the most imitated cheese in the world and abuse of the name brings significant harm to its producers. Whilst the denomination is protected throughout the EU, it is not effectively protected outside, leading to serious damage from commercial counterfeiting and abuse of the name. This is especially apparent in the USA, the largest market outside the EU, with exports of US $150 million a year.

Therefore the Consortium of Parmigiano-Reggiano has decided to take proactive steps to strengthen its historic trademark. To this end, NetNames will use its industry leading Marketplace Enforcement and Website Monitoring services to detect counterfeit Parmigiano Reggiano products for sale online and subsequently remove the websites using domain names containing the Parmigiano Reggiano trademark

Riccardo Deserti, Director, at Parmigiano-Reggiano comments:

“Today, the internet is one of the main channels our product is marketed and sold through. The Consortium decided to engage in this important partnership with NetNames, one of the world’s leading online brand protection and domain name management specialists,  in order to execute a significantly more targeted defence and surveillance of our name against infringements on the main online marketplaces sites.

“We hope that from this agreement we can protect our dairies and consumers against counterfeiting, and therefore protect the reputation and integrity of our unique product.”

Jim Evans, General Manager, Northern Europe at NetNames comments: 

“Securing a contract with the Consortium of Parmigiano-Reggiano to protect the tradition and integrity of one of the oldest and most popular cheeses in the world is testament to NetNames’ expertise and knowledge of brand protection, and leading position in this area. 

“NetNames has extensive experience of working closely with some of the largest and most-recognised food and drink brands around the world. Our specialist technology and expert analysts have the knowledge to identify the areas in which intellectual property rights are enforceable. This expertise will allow us to protect Parmigiano-Reggiano’s trademark against infringements in the most proactive and effective ways possible.”