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EU Regulation on geographical indications for craft and industrial products

05.12.2023 | EN, News EN

EU Regulation on geographical indications for craft and industrial products

Dec 5, 2023

On 16 November 2023, Regulation (EU) 2023/2411 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 October 2023 on the protection of geographical indications for craft and industrial products and amending Regulations (EU) 2017/1001 and (EU) 2019/1753 entered into force.

 

Pursuant to the new Regulation, from 1 December 2025, craft and industrial goods manufacturers will be able to apply for registration of geographical indications based on a uniform application valid in all EU Member States.

 

This Regulation is intended to implement international obligations resulting from the EU’s accession to the Geneva Act of the Lisbon Agreement on Appellations of Origin and Geographical Indications.

This Act establishes instruments to enable the protection of geographical indications for, among others, craft and industrial products. The EU was obliged to adopt regulations that make it possible to obtain such protection.  So far, the uniform protection of geographical indications in the EU has covered agricultural products, food, spirits, wine, and flavoured wines.

 

Today, some Member States have national systems for the protection of geographical indications for craft and industrial products. However, they are very diverse, and the protection granted by a Member State applies only within its territory.

The new EU standards are primarily intended to guarantee a consistent system of protection against the misuse of names or the creation of low-quality imitations of products whose quality, reputation or other characteristics are closely linked to their geographical origin. Other objectives of this regulation include strengthening the competitiveness of craft and industrial producers, increasing consumer awareness of and access to authentic, high-quality products, protecting and developing the cultural heritage in the craft and industrial sectors, and having an overall positive impact on employment, development, and tourism in rural and less-developed regions.

 

Products that will be eligible for protection

The Regulation applies to craft and industrial products that are defined as produced:

  1. either entirely by hand or with the aid of manual or digital tools, or by mechanical means, whenever the manual contribution is an important component of the finished product; or
  2. in a standardised way, including serial production and with the use of machines.

Protection of geographical indications can be granted to craft and industrial products that have a given quality, reputation or other characteristic feature linked to their geographical origin.

To be considered to have one (or more) of these qualities, a product must meet a total of three requirements:

  • the product originates in a specific place, region or country;
  • the product’s given quality, reputation or other characteristic feature is essentially attributable to its geographical origin;
  • at least one of the production steps of the product takes place in the defined geographical area.

There is also a negative condition for granting protection, namely, the product must not be contrary to public policy.

The production steps in the context of the above requirements should be considered as the production steps indicated in the product specification that give the product a given quality, reputation or other characteristic feature which may be determined (as the case may be) by human factors or natural ones, or by their combination.

Obtaining protection

Under the Regulation, starting from 1 December 2025, the GI registration procedure will have two levels:

  1. national level – where the applicant files the application for registration of the GI to the competent authority designated by the Member State from which the product originates. The authority examines the application to see whether the product and the applicant meet the requirements set out in the Regulation and checks if the application provides all the necessary information. If, after examination, the authority finds that the application fails to meet the requirements or does not contain the necessary information, it will reject the application, otherwise it will initiate a national opposition procedure. Finally, the authority will check whether the application complies with the requirements of the Regulation and issue a positive decision or reject the application.
  2. EU level – if the national authority has issued a positive decision, it submits the application to the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), which conducts the EU level proceedings. The Office examines the application considering the outcome of the national registration stage. The Office also carries out an opposition procedure at the EU level.

If the national authority issues a positive decision, a Member State may grant the applicant temporary national protection for the geographical indication effective from the date when the application for registration is filed with EUIPO. Such temporary protection generates effects only at the national level and it will have no impact on either the internal market or international trade.

Applicant

GI is a collective right which may (and should) be exercised by all eligible producers in a defined geographical area that are willing to comply with the product specification. That is why, in principle, the application for its registration is to be submitted by a ‘producers’ group’, which the Regulation defines as any association, irrespective of its legal form, mainly composed of producers working with the same product.

There are two exceptions to this rule:

1. The applicant may be a single producer when two conditions are fulfilled:

  • the person concerned is the only producer willing to apply;
  • the designated geographical area is defined by a particular part of a territory (and not by reference to their own private land or workshop) and its characteristics differ appreciably from those of neighbouring geographical areas, or the characteristics of the product in question are different from those of products produced in neighbouring geographical areas;

2.  A local or regional authority or private entity designated by a Member State may also be considered as an applicant.

In the case of a product originating in a cross-border geographical area, several applicants from different Member States, from Member States and third countries, or from third countries may submit a joint application for the registration of a geographical indication for such a product.

The application must be accompanied by a product specification, the precise content of which is set out in the Regulation.

Scope of protection

Under the Regulation, geographical indications entered in the EU register shall be protected against:

  1. any direct or indirect commercial use of the geographical indication in respect of products not covered by the registration, where those products are comparable to the products covered by the registration or where the use of the name exploits, weakens, dilutes, or is detrimental to the reputation of the protected geographical indication;
  2. any misuse, imitation or evocation of the name protected as a geographical indication, even if the true origin of the products or services is indicated or if the protected geographical indication is translated or accompanied by an expression such as ‘style’, ‘type’, ‘method’, ‘as produced in’, ‘imitation’, ‘flavour’, ‘fragrance’, ‘like’ or similar;
  3. any other false or misleading indication as to the provenance, origin, nature, or essential qualities of the product that is used on the inner or outer packaging, on advertising materials, in documents or information provided on online interfaces relating to the product, as well as the packing of the product in a container liable to convey a false impression as to its origin;
  4. any other practice liable to mislead the consumer as to the true origin of the product.

Expiration of current national protection

EU action seeks to unify the system of protection. According to the Regulation, individual national geographical indication protection for craft and industrial products will cease by 2 December 2026.

By that time, interested Member States shall inform the Commission and EUIPO which of their legally protected names, or, in the Member States where there is no protection system, which of their names established by usage, they wish to register and protect pursuant to this Regulation. Based on such a declaration, the Member State concerned may extend the national protection of a product until the registration procedure at the EU level has become completed and the decision has become final.

Where EU protection is granted, the date on which the relevant Member State has provided the Commission and EUIPO with the information shall be considered as the first day of protection under the newly promulgated Regulation.

Fees

Member States may charge fees to cover the costs of the national registration phase. However, they are not precisely defined.  The Regulation only provides that the fees must be reasonable, proportionate and reflect the situation of MSMEs (to foster the competitiveness of producers) and they must not exceed the costs incurred in carrying out the tasks under this Regulation.

EUIPO only charges fees for the direct registration procedure, the procedure for geographical indications from third countries and for appeals to the EUIPO Boards of Appeal. The fee rates are to be specified by the Commission in secondary legislation.

 

Full text of the Regulation is available here:

https://eur-lex.europa.eu/eli/reg/2023/2411

 

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