The Canadian government released a technical summary of the Canada – EU trade agreement (CETA) yesterday, which provides further details on the draft agreement (tabling a summary of the treaty is a strange exercise and the government needs to release the full text). Within the summary, there are some further details on the intellectual property issues that were not highlighted in the initial releases.
First, while the emphasis on cheese and the dairy industry has focused on increasing the amount of European cheese that can be sold in Canada, the agreement also contains some notable new restrictions on the sale and marketing of cheese in Canada more generally. Under the umbrella of geographic indications protections, Canada has agreed to new limitations on several well known cheeses including asiago, feta, fontina, gorgonzola, and munster. Existing Canadian producers can continue to use these names, but that’s it – any future cheese makers will need to qualify the title by using words such as “imitation” or “style”. This is a significant concession that effectively gives rights to existing producers on what many consumers would view as generic names.