Nov 18, 2016

French Confectioners In Not So Sweet Chinese Trademark Battle

The Union des Fabricants des Calissons (Union of Calisson Makers) is an organisation of manufacturers of Calissons d'Aix, a French sweet. They have reacted with fury to the news that a Chinese based firm (Ye CHunlin) have registered the name Calissons d'Aix as a trademark with Sipo the Chinese intellectual property agency.

Calissons d'Aix are melon flavoured eye shaped sweets made from marzipan and almond. The sweets are associated with the town of Aix in the Provence region of France which is where most of the supplies of the sweets are still made.

Calissons have had protected status since 1991 meaning that any confectioner hoping to make the sweets must do so in accordance with set methods.  However, this protection is limited to France meaning that overseas manufacturers are free to use their own methods of production.

After fourteen years of debate amongst themselves as to the allowed manufacturing processes and official ingredients list for the production of the sweets, the Union of Calisson Makers launched a bid in July of this year for the EU designated Protected Geographical Indication (PGI). The PGI would mean that only those Calissons made within the Provence region of France and produced following set methods of production would be able to sell their products using the Calissons d'Aix name.  The PGI has already been granted to products such as Scotch Whisky and Parma Ham. The granting of a PGI would have granted global protection for Calissons d'Aix under EU rules.

The granting of a PGI takes at least a year to become applicable if a bid is successful and due to the lack of the PGI, Ye Chunlin were able to register the Calissons d'Aix name as a trademark with Sipo. In response to this the Union have lodged a counter claim with Sipo in the hope that they will be able to block Ye Chunlin's registration.

It will be interesting to see if the Union are able to block Sipo's decision and gain protected status for Calissons d'Aix in order to prevent the 'made in China' symbol being attached to an iconic French sweet. The salutary lesson to be taken from this is in the fact that had the Union of Calisson Makers been able to agree ingredients and production methods for the product earlier rather than argue amongst themselves for 14 years they would likely already have achieved protected status for Calissons d'Aix and this problem would not have arisen. This demonstrates the importance of acting swiftly when seeking to protect and register your intellectual property rights.

in: News, Trade Marks

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