Jarlsberg cheese fight heads for appeals court

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A local dairy in Norway isn’t giving up its fight to describe its new cheese as a “jarlsberg-type.” The Synnøve Finden dairy is appealing a court decision that only Norwegian dairy giant Tine, which controls 80 percent of the market, can use the name “Jarlsberg.”

The court in Follo, south of Oslo, ruled in favour of Tine’s claim that it has held rights to “Jarlsberg” as a registered trademark since 1971. Synnøve Finden argues that “jarlsberg” is a type of cheese akin to cheddar or gouda, for example, that dates back to the mid-1800s, and that Tine thus can’t claim exclusivity.

Synnøve Finden won support from a descendant of Anders Larsen Bakke, said to be a dairy pioneer in Våle in Vestfold County, who developed the cheese as the Norwegian variety of Swiss cheese. The name “Jarlsberg” was attached to it because Vestfold was called “Jarlsberg og Larviks amt” at the time.

Tine has also admitted to newspaper Aftenposten that its employees had changed references to “jarlsberg cheese” in the online Wikipedia encyclopedia to “Jarlsberg” with the symbol of a registered trademark. “We wanted to be more conscious about how we use the trademark ‘Jarlsberg,'” Hanna Refsholt, chief executive of Tine, told newspaper Aftenposten.

Synnøve Finden counters that Tine’s alterations of Wikipedia merely prove that Tine wants “to turn a type of cheese into a trademark,” claims spokesman Magnus Tollefsen. The company has now filed for a new trial before the appeals court (lagmannsretten).

newsinenglish.no staff