(Bloomberg) -- Producers of Italian vinegar from the region of Modena lost a challenge at the European Union’s highest court to stop German rivals from using parts of their protected name Aceto Balsamico di Modena.

The protection of the name Aceto Balsamico di Modena “does not extend to the use of non-geographical individual terms” of that name, the EU Court of Justice in Luxembourg ruled on Wednesday.

Germany’s Federal Court of Justice last year sought the EU judges’ guidance in a dispute between the Italian producers and a German firm that sells vinegar-based products with names such as “Aceto” or “Aceto Balsamico.”

The association representing German producers, including of Balsamico vinegar, said the ruling brings long-sought legal certainty after years of legal fights. The decision means that use of the words Balsamico or Aceto Balsamico is now allowed.

It’s not the first time the EU judges have weighed in on discords over the use of food names that enjoy a bloc-wide protection, called geographical indications. In May they ruled in favor of Spanish makers of Queso Manchego in a fight over the way rivals labeled or named their product to look like the world-famous cheese.

An email to the Italian group of producers wasn’t immediately answered.

The case is: C-432/18 Consorzio Tutela Aceto Balsamico di Modena.

To contact the reporter on this story: Stephanie Bodoni in Luxembourg at sbodoni@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at aaarons@bloomberg.net, Peter Chapman

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