Murano glass, Albacete cutlery, Donegal tweed, Porcelaine de Limoges, Solingen cutlery and Delftware: what do they have in common?
In addition to the fact that they may potentially be found in your grandparents’ house, these products are original, authentic and rooted in the tradition of a certain region.
The European Union has a longstanding tradition of safeguarding traditional agricultural products. Within the EU, this protection is achieved through the implementation of systems for safeguarding geographical indications and designations of origin, ensuring the authenticity and quality of food and bevarages.. You may have already come across the familiar canine label on a bottle of Geuze or on the packaging of a Geraardsberg mattentaart.
For the buyer, these designations guarantee the close connection between these products and the regions they come from. It is a protection of years of knowhow and expertise that makes these products unique and guarantees local quality.
Following the success story of geographical indications in the agricultural sector, the label is now also becoming available for the industrial sector and local crafts, including textiles, jewellery, glass and porcelain.
This was made possible by EU Regulation 2023/2411 of 18 October 2023 on the protection of geographical indications for craft and industrial products.
This Protected Geographical Indication label ensures that consumers can trust the authenticity and quality of products. Through this means, the EU aims to protect traditional production methods and support the cultural identity and economic growth of its regions.
Craft and industrial products?
Important: What is considered “craft and industrial products” by the Regulation?
These products are:
|(a)||produced 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|
|(b)||produced in a standardised way, including serial production and by using machines;|
In order for the name of a craft or industrial product to qualify for protection as a geographical indication, the product shall comply with the following requirements:
|(a)||the product originates in a specific place, region or country;|
|(b)||the product’s given quality, reputation or other characteristic is essentially attributable to its geographical origin; and|
|(c)||at least one of the production steps of the product takes place in the defined geographical area.|
How to obtain protection?
An application for registration of a geographical indication must be submitted by a producer group: any association, irrespective of its legal form, mainly composed of producers working with the same product (unless only one person produces the product).
This producer group must draw up a product specification indicating, among other things, the type of product involved, the defined geographical area, the production methods, etc.
A procedure is then launched at national level in a first stage, where the country’s authorities judge whether registration is appropriate.*
In a second stage, the EU Intellectual Property Office will do a formal check and then publish the product specification, to which third parties may object.
*EU member states can indicate that they allow to skip the national phase.
We already mentioned that registered geographical indications will be ‘protected’, but what does this protection entail?
The protection is quite broad. Registered geographical indications shall be protected against:
|(a)||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;|
|(b)||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;|
|(c)||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;|
|(d)||any other practice liable to mislead the consumer as to the true origin of the product.|
You will also not be able to register a trademark that goes against the above rules, for example.