When will the EU introduce Geographical Indications for craft and industrial products?
The EU plan to introduce geographical indications (GIs) for craft and industrial products has taken a big step forward, following an agreement between the Council and European Parliament on 2 May 2023.
The agreement concerns a proposal for an EU Regulation designed to protect products with qualities linked to the area of production, such as Murano glass or Limoges porcelain.
GI protection is already available in the EU for food, beverages and agricultural products.
According to EUIPO, the 2 May 2023 agreement:
guarantees the coherence with GI protection rules for agricultural products by applying the concept of 'protected geographical indications' (PGIs), which ensures that GIs 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; and
facilitates procedures for the registration of GIs, in particular for SMEs, while ensuring a high level of legal protection with EUIPO playing an important role on the registration procedures for craft and industrial GIs.
What does this mean?
This agreement is a significant step for the proposal, and the Regulation is now expected to enter into force at the beginning of 2024.
It also raises the question of whether the UK will seek to implement similar legislation. GI protection for foods, agricultural products and beverages was carried over following Brexit and the UK has since added further GIs, but we are not aware of a proposal to extend GI protection to craft products in the UK.
In a paper on non-agricultural GIs (NAGIs) published last year, the UK government said:
“We recognise that we may come under pressure from stakeholders to mirror any changes the EU makes, and we will want to ensure that our approach does not put UK businesses in a less advantageous position than their EU-based counterparts. We would also need to consider the ramifications of any potential domestic UK sui generis NAGI scheme which would benefit a very limited number of UK businesses but have great benefits for foreign businesses including in the context of trade deals.”
It also noted that it was not clear how the proposal would apply to Northern Ireland.