Protection of craft and industrial products: European regulations

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Names of craft and industrial products that meet the necessary protection requirements will be, most probably in a couple of years, safeguarded at the EU level through a single registration that would cover the entire EU territory.  

In November 2020, the European Commission presented a proposal under the Intellectual Property Action Plan to create a regulatory framework for the protection of craft and industrial products. A provisional political agreement was reached by the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission in May 2023; in October 2023 it was formally approved by the European Parliament and the Council.

Background
Geographical indication, GI is a term commonly used to describe the name of a product linked to a specific geographical place. The different terms – such as protected designation of origin, protected geographical indication, appellation of origin, and geographical indication – depend on the link with the place, region or country in question, and refer to a specific type of GI. For example, protection granted to a specific name may require that all raw materials be sourced from the geographical area concerned, or that a certain number of steps within the production process take place in the area.
Geographical indication, GI is an intellectual property right to protect a name of a product that has a specific geographical origin; it owes its qualities and/or reputation to a particular state/region. According to the EU GI legal framework, GI protection distinguishes between:

a) ‘protected designation of origin’ or PDOs which are only available to agricultural products and foodstuffs and wine products, and

b) ‘protected geographical indication’ or PGIs depending on how strong is the link between the qualities of a product and its geographical origin. It depends, e.g. on how much of the product’s raw materials comes from the area, or how much of the production process is taking place within a specific region.

    PGIs include products in categories of craft and industrial outcomes, as well as food and wine, where a given quality, reputation or other characteristic of the product is essentially attributable to its geographical origin, and at least one of the production steps takes place in the defined geographical area.
Besides, there is a third GI element, i.e. a registered geographical indication specifically for spirit drinks; these are connected to the product’s particular quality, reputation or other characteristic essentially attributable to its geographical origin.
Source and reference to: https://www.euipo.europa.eu/en/gi-hub

Examination and registration
This will be done in two phases: producers will first file their Geographical Indication applications to a designated the member states’ authority, which will then submit successful applications for further evaluation and approval to the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO).
Direct application procedure to EUIPO will also be possible for those EU states that obtain derogation from the Commission, if they have no national evaluation procedure in place or lack interested producers. The Commission will retain the possibility to decide on a Geographical Indication application in certain cases.

Prominent Geographical Indication Labeling
Craft and industrial producers will have the opportunity to showcase their protected Geographical Indication names by displaying a distinct logo on their products. This labeling will enable consumers to identify craft and industrial products with specific characteristics linked to their geographical origin, as well as helping them make informed choices when purchasing these products.
There are also some means of enforcement and quality control: producers will be able to self-declare compliance of their products with the product specifications. Public authorities will have to carry out controls and checks in the market for products bearing the registered Geographical Indication name to avoid abuses, both online and offline, including on internet domain names. Besides, a deterrent system with fines for infringements is also foreseen in the future regulation.

Expected register
The EU-wide Register for GIs in craft and industrial products includes names of the products that are maintained by the European Union Intellectual Property Office, EUIPO. However, the register will be publicly accessible only when the Regulation on GI Protection for Craft and Industrial Products becomes applicable (expected in December 2025).
Presently, there is a database of GIs protected in the EU, which is the most comprehensive searchable database for GIs in the world. It contains officially registered data for GIs in the EU, third countries (through bilateral and multilateral agreements) and all EU GIs protected abroad through such agreements. Additionally, it contains extended data, making it a powerful promotional tool for GI producers. Finally, an equally important function of the tool is the link with the Enforcement Portal (IPEP).

   The system of European geographical indication protection, EGIP has long been established for agricultural products in the EU; however, only sixteen member states have a system of protection of craft and industrial products. , such a system was lacking at the EU level.
The absence of a unitary GI-protection framework for craft and industrial products in the EU led to variations in legal protection across different EU states. Recognising this disparity, the CIGI Regulation aims to rectify this situation and harmonise the protection of valuable European products.
Now, the member states, the EUIPO, the Commission and stakeholders will have two years to prepare for the full application of the new system which is foreseen for December 2025. Existing national craft and industrial product geographical indications will cease to exist one year after the date of application of the regulation.
Source: https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/IP_23_5813

 

 

 

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