The Council and the European Parliament reached today a provisional deal on the regulation for geographical indication protection for craft and industrial products. Once this regulation is finally approved, geographical indications (GIs), which up to now were used mainly for foods and beverages, will be enlarged to industrial products whose qualities are essentially linked to the area of production, such as Bohemian glass, Limoges porcelain or Solingen cutlery.
Importance of GI rules
The EU currently has specific GI protection rules for wines, spirit drinks, foodstuffs, and other agricultural products. Champagne and Prosciutto di Parma are well-known examples of agricultural GIs.
However, there is currently no EU-wide GI protection for craft and industrial goods. This regulation aims to establish directly applicable GI protection for craft and industrial products (such as jewellery, textiles, glass, porcelain, etc.) at EU level, complementing the existing EU protection for GIs in the agricultural domain.
GI protection for such products will lead to more innovation and investment in crafts by helping artisans and producers, particularly SMEs, to promote and protect their traditional know-how at EU level in compliance with EU competition rules.
Main points of the agreement
The political agreement reached today with the Parliament:
- guarantees the coherence with GI protection rules for agricultural products by applying the concept of ‘protected geographical indications’ (so-called ‘PGIs’), which ensures that geographical indications are attractive for producers maintaining a strong link between the product’s characteristics and its geographical origin
- provides for efficient control and verification procedures for the protection of GIs with a system based on self-declaration as the default procedure that member states reinforce with controls
- ensures that the protection of craft and industrial GIs also applies to the domain name space and the online environment
- facilitates procedures for the registration of GIs, in particular for SMEs, while ensuring a high level of legal protection with the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) playing an important role on the registration procedures for craft and industrial GIs
The provisional agreement reached today with the European Parliament now needs to be endorsed and formally adopted by both institutions.
The regulation is one of the key proposals under the Intellectual Property Action Plan, which was presented by the European Commission in November 2020. The Commission published its proposal for a regulation on 13 April 2022. The Council adopted its general approach on 1 December 2022.
The absence of EU-level GI protection for craft and industrial products is not only an internal issue. In November 2019, the EU acceded to the Geneva Act of the Lisbon Agreement on Appellations of Origin and Geographical Indications (an international treaty of the World Intellectual Property Organization), which covers GIs for both agricultural and non–agricultural products. The proposal will enable the EU to meet its international obligations under this treaty and to take full advantage of the opportunities offered by it.