Arbitration court rejected the lawsuit of Adygei manufacturers to Umalat Company about breach of their exclusive right to use appellation of origin ‘Syr Adygeysky’ (Adygei cheese). It enabled the Russian cheese makers to use this name for their products for the first time in many years.
On 27 February, the 20th arbitration appellation court dismissed the appellation of Adygei manufacturers to ZAO Umalat demanding to prohibit the use of ‘Syr Adygeysky’ (Adygei Cheese) name by the company and get a compensation for its illegal use. The first lawsuit to Umalat was dismissed on 26 November, 2018.
Defending their exclusive right to ‘Syr Adygeysky’ trademark, Adygei manufacturers referred to the fact that it is registered by Rospatent as appellation of origin (AOD). This status, in fact, bars other companies from the opportunity to use this name for their products. Only 5 factories in the republic maintained this right: Giaginsky, Krasnogvardeysky, Tambovsky, Shovgensky and Adygeysky dairy plants.
However, the traditional method of cheese making formulated in AOD is impossible in industrial production. That is why today none of Russian companies, including Adygei cheese makers, stick to the AOD requirements, and this fact became a crucial argument of Umalat. Their cheeses are manufactured by technical specifications or GOST ‘Soft cheeses. Technical specifications’ which allows Adygei cheese production by any Russian manufacturer.
AOD ‘Adygeysky Syr’ specifies requirements to its production technology: protein settling by adding sour milk whey, cheese molding and compression in handmade wicker baskets, use of only Adygei raw products. Following this AOD in mass production is impossible, since use of wicker baskets does not meet modern sanitary norms. This is why all Adygei cheeses in Russia, including those manufactured in Adygea, are produced in accordance with GOST.
Adygei cheese production is regulated by two simultaneously valid documents contradicting each other: GOST and AOD. Nevertheless, Russian consumers know this product as made by GOST standards, whereas the authentic cheese manufactured according to AOD is currently unknown. Umalat Company noted that ‘Adygeysky Syr’ name is now in everyday usage, indicating a product with certain appearance, and is not connected to the territory of its production. This is stipulated by paragraph 2 of art. 1516 of the Civil Code of the Russian Federation.
‘Adygea’s attempt to seize an exclusive right to manufacture Adygei cheese first of all impacts consumers, denying them the opportunity to buy the sort they are accustomed to,’ Alexey Martynenko, founder of ZAO Umalat said . ‘This situation is not just incorrect but also absurd: you cannot demand that the others stick to the rules you break yourself. We hope that after the court’s decision the sort of cheese, many of our customers like, will be back on shelves’.The demand of Adygei companies to prohibit the product’s manufacturing outside of the republic brought about decline of the Adygei cheese market. The decision of retail chains to remove the Adygei cheese produced in other Russian regions (which means 70% of the whole production), according to AC Nielsen’s information, caused the market decline in 2017 by 15.2% and in 2018 by 18%. This imbalance can result in cheese industry’s recession in Russia.