‘Strengthening geographical indications (GIs)’ is the theme of this on-line Conference. It marks the official kick-off for an in-depth review where engagement with stakeholders and the public will be prominent. The starting point is that the EU GI systems are sound; indeed they are, and have been a tremendous success, with 3360 GIs registered, 1590 non-EU GIs protected under agreements and many of the EU registered GIs protected around the world under 34 international agreements.
The review takes the form of a wide public consultation – including a 12-week formal questionnaire to be opened January-March 2021. A major evaluation into GIs will report during the same period and this coupled with a rigorous impact assessment, will form the solid foundation for a truly evidence-based policy proposal in Q4 of 2021. The kind of initiatives under scrutiny and presented in this conference are:
- increase the applicability of GIs for farmers and producers of sustainable products;
- increase the attractiveness of GIs notably for producers in the ‘low use’ Member States;
- correct legislative gaps including in the scope of coverage;
- improve protection and enforcement especially on the internet;
- empower GI producer groups;
- better valorise the GI scheme notably through use of the GI logos;
- modernise management of the GI registers.
While the advantages of specific legislation for the Wines and Spirits sectors are well understood to preserve the particular specificities of these products, the policy review will look at achieving a simplified system. The GI instrument must become more attractive to producers, more understandable to consumers, and easier to promote – thus leading ultimately to higher sales and higher recognition of the GI concept. The review will assess opportunities to merge the technical and procedural rules on geographical indications, provide for a single GI registration procedure and digital submission of applications by EU and non-EU applicants, with a view to shortening registration times.
Green deal and Intellectual Property action: Revision of the EU Geographical Indications systems in agricultural products and foodstuffs, wines, aromatised wines and spirit drinks is at the heart of the Farm to Fork Strategy (2020). This work was initiated by President von der Leyen, who requested to look at ways to strengthen the policy of geographical indications. The initiative is included in the Commission Work Programme 2021 under REFIT initiatives, linked to the European Green Deal. See the Roadmap here. In addition, the upcoming Intellectual Property Action Plan calls for improving the protection system for geographical indications to make it more effective.
The event is co-organised by DG AGRI and the European Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) as the follow up of the jointly hosted conference of EUIPO and DG AGRI on the intersect between GIs and trade marks in 2018. The first conference was held in Alicante (at EUIPO premises) under the title “Trade Marks - GI future perspectives” and was the first major legal conference to bring together the stakeholders from both the GI and trade mark practitioners.