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Mexico is arguing with the European Union, which has allowed chili peppers called jalapenos and chipotles to enter from Turkey and from across Asia.

France has already set a precedent for the monopolization of food terms, including “Champagne,” and Spain has done so for “Manchego” cheese. So now Mexico will press its case, who knows, maybe take it to the dispute settlement system of the World Trade Organization.

I get it, I get why certain countries want to own terms, but I tend to side more with the idea of freedom of commercial expression. It’s not like┬ájalapeno and chipotle is a personal or family name, or the name of a town. How about the idea of “French champagne” or “Mexican jalapeno”? That should be enough notify consumers that they have the real McCoy at hand.

But consumers should also have the option to buy the products of pretenders, imposters, and wannabes. And the original producers all upset about this should remember that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

 

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