There is currently no EU-wide system for protecting the geographical indications of non-agricultural products (such as handicrafts and industrial goods). Driven by a vision of GIs as tools for rural development and territorial planning, AREPO believes that a regulation at EU level is needed.
The Lisbon Agreement, and its latest revision, the Geneva Act of 2015, provides for the international protection of appellations of origin and geographical indications through a single procedure with World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).
In the framework of the World Trade Organization (WTO), the international protection of GIs is addressed by the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs Agreement).
None of these international treaties limit the scope of the protection of geographical indications to agricultural products, but they apply to all kind of products: agricultural and non agricultural ones.
Yet, the EU has a system in place for the protection of the sole geographical indications of agricultural products and foodstuffs, wines, spirit drinks and aromatised wine products, while no such system exists at EU level for the protection of Geographical Indications for industrial and artisanal products.
As a result, there are a number of EU non agricultural products protected at Member States level via a wide variety of legal schemes.
Towards an EU-wide system for protecting craft and industrial GIs
Over the last 10 years, the European Union has begun to consider the introduction of an EU-wide system for the protection of GIs for non-agricultural products.
Following a series of studies conducted since 2013, the European Commission Communications and the European Parliament Resolutions, in November 2020, the Commission announced the IP action plan, expressing together with the Council their readiness to consider the creation of an EU-wide GI protection system for geographically-linked industrial and handicraft products.
On 13 April 2022, the European Commission published a proposal for a regulation on the creation of an EU-wide protection system for Geographical Indications for craft and industrial products (CI GIs).
Drawing on the success of the GI system for wine, spirit drinks and agricultural products, the EC intends to establish a protection system for CI products at EU level, in order to improve the position of producers against counterfeiting, improve the visibility of CI products on the markets and guarantee consumers the authenticity of these products.
Through this legislative proposal the EC is addressing the lack of a common EU legal framework concerning CI GIs, resulted in the heterogeneity of national specific protection systems for CI GIs with different characteristics.
Furthermore, following EU adhesion to the Geneva Act of the Lisbon Agreement on Appellations of Origins and Geographical Indications, a treaty administered by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the proposal aims to ensure that producers can fully benefit from the international framework for the registration and protection of GIs (‘Lisbon system’). EU producers of CI products cannot currently claim protection under the Geneva Act and the EU has to reject requests for such protection from members of the Geneva Act, due to the lack of common legal EU framework. In the same vein, EU producers cannot benefit from the protection granted by EU trade agreements that currently only cover agricultural GI products.
More information at the EC page dedicated to GIs for craft and industrial products.