A Waikato cheesemaker says he is very surprised by Fonterra's claim it is the only company allowed to use the word vintage to describe cheese.
The dairy cooperative has written to a number of cheesemakers telling them the word was trademarked in 1964 and it is simply protecting the trademark and the value of its brands.
The Meyer family have been producing Gouda cheese for 27 years and have marketed a vintage gouda all that time.
Miel Meyer says a letter from Fonterra telling the family to cease using the term, and instead say strong or extra mature cheese, was a shock.
He said the word is commonly used to describe something of age, including cars.
Mr Meyer says other specialist cheese makers have also received letters from Fonterra and are considering taking legal advice.
The president of the Specialist Cheesemakers Association, Mike Carey, says they are getting a legal opinion but may have to live with it.
Another cheesemaker, Di Hawkins, says people do not have the means to fight Fonterra, but hopes the intellectual property office will show common sense when the trademark comes up for review.
The cheesemakers say they were not aware of a court case over the trademark Fonterra won against an Australian company in the 1990s.