Moving Mountains

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The renowned chocolate “Toblerone” is being forced to remove the iconic image of Switzerland’s Matterhorn mountain because the brand cannot be considered “Swiss” anymore under the country’s law, Euronews reported.

The redesign came after the brand’s US owner, Mondelez, decided to move production outside of Switzerland to Slovakia for the first time in the chocolate’s history.

The confectionery giant explained this week that changing the production site was important to address growing demand for its products.

But Swiss law dictates that only milk-based products produced exclusively in Switzerland can use the country’s symbols in their packaging and marketing. This means that Toblerone – established in 1908 in the Swiss capital of Bern – will lose its image of the Matterhorn peak from its packaging.

Instead, Mondelez said Matterhorn will be replaced by a generic summit. The new packaging will also include a new font, a label that says “established in Switzerland” instead of “of Switzerland,” and the signature of Toblerone’s founder, Theodor Tobler.

Meanwhile, the Toblerone case is not the only product having an identity crisis recently.

A US court ruled earlier this month that the label “Gruyère” can be applied to any cheese, not just the dairy product made exclusively in France and Switzerland, the Washington Post noted.

The case began in 2015 when the US Patent and Trademark Office rejected an application by French and Swiss cheesemakers to certify only cheese that hails only from the mountainous European region between France and Switzerland can be called “Gruyère.” The USPTO, instead, saw the term “Gruyère” as generic, adding that it amounted to “a category of cheese that may be made anywhere and evoke the Swiss and (occasionally) French origin.”

In 2021, a Virginia district court upheld the patent’s office ruling.

Earlier this March, the Virginia-based US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit also ruled that the term was generic, noting that Gruyère “primarily signifies a type of cheese (much like brie, swiss, parmesan or mozzarella) regardless of regional origin.”

In Europe, many were disappointed by the lack of protection for the cheese which has a storied, 900-year history.

“The disrespect of the American law for (products with a protected designation) is unbearable,” a French user of social media said, according to the Post.

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