Re: POL: Reaction to Microsoft Ruling

From: Michael S. Lorrey (
Date: Sat Apr 15 2000 - 16:25:30 MDT

Lee Daniel Crocker wrote:
> > The point of difficulty is with whether place names
> > like Champagne or Vermont are more well known as product types, or as
> > geographic regions. If the more common definition is as a product type,
> > then any geographic restrictions should not really hold.
> For products that are primarily agricultural (wine and maple syrup are
> good examples) geography _is_ part of the product quality, because no
> two regions of Earth have the same soil, weather, and other conditions
> that affect agricultural products. I can plant Vidalia onions
> in my backyard, and even try to reduce the sulfur content of my soil
> to that of Vidalia, but it will never quite be Vidalia soil, and the
> onions just won't be real Vidalia onions. Ditto Vermont maple syrup,
> Tequila, Bordeaux, and other products.

Yet a New York company that makes fake maple syrup out of corn syrup and
maple extract is allowed to call its product Vermont Maid Maple Syrup.
> Of course the trademark laws go a little further than that in also
> protecting localized products whose quality isn't based on local
> soil: Kentucky Sour Mash Bourbon, for example, is usually made from
> out of state grain, but Tennesee distillers who use the same grain
> and the same process (like Jack Daniels) can't legally call their
> product Kentucky Sour Mash if they didn't actually make it there.
> (For the Bourbon drinkers out there I am _not_ arguing that Jack
> Daniels is of similar quality to a good Kentucky Sour Mash, or even
> to a mediocre one like Wild Turkey, just that it has no legitimate
> reason not to claim the title).

Yet there are other agricultural products, like livestock which have
geographic names but are not raised there (Hampshire chickens, Cornish
hens, etc) and products like beer (Old Milwaukee, produced for the New
England market at a plant in Manchester NH and made from the water of
the Merrimack River...) and cheese (Cheddar, Roquefort, etc...) that are
also named despite their being produced outside the geographies they
originated in, and their taste is quite dependent upon the local
product. Milk from cows raised in Vermont is going to make cheddar that
tastes different from Wisconsin Cheddar, or Cheddar Cheddar, etc.

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