Jarlsberg cheesemakers slice through conflict

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Norwegian dairy Synnøve Finden has settled its latest legal battle with dominant dairy cooperative Tine. They were quarreling over Tine’s right to use the brand name “Jarlsberg” and it looks like Tine won.

Newspaper Nationen reported that both dairies have dropped their compensation claims against the other. Synnøve Finden, however, has also promised not to market or distribute any cheese products using even the description “jarlsberg-type” or other similar names on its new Kongsgård cheese (which it has equated to its version of Tine’s Jarlsberg).

Synnøve Finden is also dropping its demand that Tine’s Jarlsberg brand be removed or otherwise ruled invalid in the Norwegian patent registry. The two companies also have agreed on how to cover court costs of the legal conflict. It was heading for an appeals court after Synnøve Finden lost the first round in a local court.

Synnøve Finden had claimed to have extensive documentation that the term “jarlsberg” (with a small “j”) had been used for a type of cheese for more than 150 years, along the same lines as gouda, edamer or cheddar, and long before Tine registered the name in 1971. Synnøve Finden lost its case, however, at a local court in Follo, south of Oslo, and already has removed the term “jarlsberg” from its packaging.

newsinenglish.no staff

  • richard albert

    I wonder if this is not so much about protecting the domestic market as it is about the implications for the trademark in the export market. In general, the Jarlsberg sold at Tesco and Sainsbury’s seems to be from Tine – no surprise – but there is a huge non EU market.

    A loss of patent privilege in Norway would be a very difficult thing to overcome should there come some challenge to ‘Jarlsberg’ as a trademark elsewhere. I would estimate export revenue to be an order of magnitude greater than domestic, and even given that export bears higher costs, the return on investment must be considerable. Even if successful, it is less than certain that Tine could mitigate legal expenses, as apparently it was able to do in Norway.

    I really think that the Jarlsberg video where the upstart employee attempts to gain the ‘secret’ and gets a sickening drop to the alligator pit sort of sums up the entire situation. (Opera fans might have relished a huge wheel of J’berg crashing down on top of him and sending them both to Valhalla, à la ‘Don Giovanni’.)