The European Commission has warned Germany that it risks a lawsuit in Europe's highest court and fines unless it cracks down on producers of knock-off Parmesan cheese, an EU official said, according to Bloomberg News. Parmesan, like France's Champagne and Italy's Parma ham, is a protected name under EU rules. To be called Parmesan -- Parmigiano Reggiano in Italian -- the cheese must be made in a defined region in Northern Italy. "The use of the term 'parmesan' by some German companies is seriously undermining the image and reputation of our famous cheese with consumers," Leo Bertozzi, director of the Consorzio del Formaggio Parmigiano-Reggiano, said in a statement. Germany, Europe's leading producer after Italy, doesn't recognize these rules, saying that Parmesan is a generic word and that anyone can make the hard, crumbly cheese.