Jaffa, the trademark used by Agrexco for marketing citrus fruits abroad is Israel’s only recognized appelation of origin under the Lisbon Convention. In a decision handed down by the Israeli Registrar of Trade Marks, dated January 9, 2005, it was held that the Israel Appellation of Origin for “JAFFA” (including “Jaffas” and also “Yafo”, “Jaffa” and “Jaffas” in Hebrew) (“the JAFFA AO”) will not be renewed. Thus, subject to an appeal, the registration of the JAFFA AO will be revoked.
The Israel Appellations of Origin and Geographical Indications Law, 1965 (“AOGI Law”) has been amended to include geographical indications and other amendments so as to comply with the TRIPS Agreement.
Appelations of origin are useful to prevent other countries from capitalizing on regional names associated with food stuffs. Champagne for sparkling wine and Cheddar or Stilton for cheese are common appelations of origin.
Moses Montefiore financed the growing of oranges by Jewish farmers in 1880 and also imported Jaffa oranges into Great Britain.
For reasons not fully clear, a couple of years back, the Israel Patent & Trademark Office apparently disallowed the trademark Jaffa as used by the The Citrus Division of the Plant Production and Marketing Board, Rishon LeZion, but the Israel District Court has over turned that decision.
The Jaffa orange or Shamouti is an almost seedless variety that was cultivated by Arabs before Israel was established. Advanced Jewish agricultural methods perfected the fruit and increased yields.
When Spain and Brazil started competing for the International citrus market and with problems of labor due to the decline of the Kibbutz, many orange orchards in Israel have been rented to Arab agriculturists. The Jaffa variety is well established in Florida where it has been grown for over 120 years.
Perhaps one of the reasons for the controversy is that Agrexco apparently licensed South Africa to produce Jaffa Oranges.