The Cour de Cassation franšaise asked the Court of justice whether a national provision that reserves the "Grana Padano" designation of origin for cheese grated in the region of production, is compatible with community law, in so far as such an obligation is not indispensable for preserving specific characteristics which the product has acquired.
Asda Stores Ltd operates a chain of supermarkets in the United Kingdom. It sells in in its supermarkets pre-sliced ham described as being "Prosciutto di Parma". The ham is purchased from Hygrade Foods Ltd, which is also based in the United Kingdom and which itself buys itfrom an Italian producer who is a member of the Consortium. The ham is imported into the United Kingdom boned but unsliced. It is sliced and hermetically sealed by Hygrade in packets of five slices each.
The packets bear the following words: "ASDA-A taste of Italy-PARMA HAM-Genuine Italian Parma Ham". The back of the packets states, " PARMA HAM-All authentic Asda continental meats are made by traditional methods to guarantee their authentic flavour and quality. Produced in Italy, packed in the UK for Asda Stores Limited".
In 1997, the Consortium complained to the Trading Standards Authorities in the United Kingdom of breach of Community law concerning the protection of designations of origin and of geographical indications of agricultural products and foodstuffs.
Following legal proceedings before the British courts, the Consortium and Salumificio brought an appeal before the House of Lords. The House of Lords is asking the Court of Justice to rule on questions concerning the interpretation of Community law in this area.