“Grana” can only be “Padano”

The term “GRANA” originally indicated a cheese characterised by its granular structure and produced in the Valle Padana (Po River Valley) since the 11th century.

Grana Padano

Due to the increase in popularity of this type of cheese, some varieties of GRANA became more famous (Grana Lodigiano, Emiliano, Lombardo, Veneto, etc. – describing the provinces in which they were produced). However, when with Italian law No. 125 of 10 April 1954, the designation of origin of cheeses were established, the recognition of the designation of origin GRANA PADANO was requested, as the term “PADANO” was considered the most suitable to bring together under a single wider geographical indication, the different varieties of GRANA cheese, which were produced in various locations in the Valle Padana (“PADANO” being the adjective meaning “from the Po River Valley”).

Therefore, starting from 1954, the genus GRANA, was absorbed in the species represented by the new designation of origin “GRANA PADANO” and “PARMIGIANO REGGIANO”, thus becoming extinct as a separate designation.

This did not prevent the improper use of the term “GRANA” in general, in violation of the provisions of the afore-mentioned legislation. In fact, the use of the term “GRANA”, separated from the adjective “PADANO”, was forbidden by the provisions of articles 9 and 10 of the afore-mentioned law 125/54, as confirmed on several occasions by various law cases and by the Italian Ministry of Agriculture (see note 15.10. 93 Prot. 61394 about cheese called “SWISS GRANA”, but also with other positions taken in the sense of the impossibility of using the term “GRANA” to indicate by-products of Parmigiano Reggiano).

The protection of the term “GRANA” was also extended, through bilateral agreements, to Germany, Austria, France and Spain.
In any case, this protection was expressly requested when the Grana Padano Protection Consortium presented the application to obtain PDO status (Protected Designation of Origin) at EU level for Grana Padano cheese, where the protection was expressly requested also for the single terms that make up the name.

In fact, in Regulation (EC) n. 1107/96 of the Commission, which recognised the PDO GRANA PADANO, unlike what was decided for other compound names, with reference to GRANA PADANO there is no wording aimed at limiting the granted protection to the whole designation but protects also the single terms.

Consequently, the name “GRANA” also fully benefits from the protection granted by the first paragraph of art. 13 of the Regulation (EEC) n. 2081/92 of the Council, and in particular from point b), (now replaced by Regulation 1151/2012), according to which the registered names are protected against «any usurpation, imitation or evocation, even if the true origin of the product is indicated or if the protected name is a translation or is accompanied by expressions such as “gender”, “type”, “method”, “in the manner”, “imitation” or similar “.

Therefore, the term “GRANA” is an integral and characterising part of the Protected Designation of Origin “GRANA PADANO” and, therefore, it can in no case be used separately from the adjective “PADANO” and with reference to cheese other than the one that may legitimately bear the full name (i.e. the one having the characteristics provided by Presidential Decree 30.10.1955 No. 1269, subsequently replaced by the Production Specifications deposited at the Community with the recognition of the PDO “GRANA PADANO”).

Therefore, since the recognition of the PDO, many organisms and authorities, of different extraction, have gradually conformed to this principle, abandoning or repressing, depending on the cases, the illicit and illegitimate use of the term “GRANA” in generic terms and separately from the adjective “PADANO”.

This important principle was also reiterated in an important ruling by the Court of First Instance of the EU Court of Justice (judgment of 12 September 2007 in case T-291/03), in which it was reaffirmed that the term “GRANA” is an integral and characterising part of the Protected Designation of Origin GRANA PADANO, and can therefore only be used in conjunction with the term “PADANO” and with reference to cheese that bears the title of the PDO.

The Grana Padano Protection Consortium is continuously taking action against anybody who improperly and wrongly usurp this designation even outside the EU, and especially all the countries in which GRANA PADANO PDO is exported, assigning legal advisors, residents in these countries, to protect the use of the term “GRANA”, which has now become improper if used separately from “PADANO”.