The term “GRANA” first came into use to indicate a cheese with a grainy structure, produced in the Po Valley from the eleventh century onwards.
As the reputation of this popular cheese grew, several varieties of GRANA were established (Grana Lodigiano, Emiliano, Lombardo, Veneto etc.), all grouped under the term “PADANO”. Following the creation of designations of origin for cheese, under law 125 of 10 April 1954, an application was made for the recognition of the GRANA PADANO designation of origin.
The occasional generic use of the word “GRANA” on its own should be considered improper and illegitimate, since the use of the word “GRANA” separately from the adjective “PADANO” is prohibited under the terms of articles 9 and 10 of the above-mentioned law 125 of 10 April 1954.
Moreover, under bilateral agreements, the term “GRANA” is now also protected in Germany, Austria, France and Spain.
This level of protection was expressly requested when the application to be awarded the Protected Designation of Origin status was made to the EC for Grana Padano cheese. This was confirmed by Commission Regulation (EC) 1107/96, which authorised the recognition of GRANA PADANO (PDO).
Consequently, the designation “GRANA” is also fully entitled to the protection given by art. 13 of Council Regulation (EC) 510/2006, in particular under paragraph (b), according to which registered designations are protected against “any misuse, imitation or evocation, even if the true origin of the product is indicated or if the protected name is translated or accompanied by an expression such as ‘style’, ‘type’, ‘method’, ‘as produced in’, ‘imitation’ or similar”.
In essence, the term “GRANA” is an integral and characterising part of the Protected Designation of Origin “GRANA PADANO” and cannot therefore under any circumstances be used separately from the adjective “PADANO”, or with reference to any cheese other than the one legally entitled to use the full designation.
This important principle has also been authoritatively confirmed in a recent ruling of the Court of First Instance of the European Communities (dated 12 September 2007, case no. T-291/03).
The unlawful or illegitimate use of the word “GRANA” in generic terms, and separately from the adjective “PADANO”, is prohibited by the relevant national authorities, while the Grana Padano Cheese Protection Consortium also intervenes in order to ensure protection outside the EU, by instructing local lawyers to take legal proceedings in countries where there are instances of the illegal use of the term “GRANA”.