6 Oct 2018

Geographical Indications after Brexit

Stilton Cheese
Author Dominik Hundhammer
Licence Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 unported
Source Wikipedia

Jane Lambert

According to the WIPO 
"A geographical indication (GI) is a sign used on products that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation that are due to that origin. In order to function as a GI, a sign must identify a product as originating in a given place. In addition, the qualities, characteristics or reputation of the product should be essentially due to the place of origin. Since the qualities depend on the geographical place of production, there is a clear link between the product and its original place of production."
As I noted in Geographical Indications 27 May 2010 parties to the WTO Agreement are required to protect such signs by arts 22 and 23 of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights and art 10bis of the Paris Convention.

As I also noted in Geographical Indications HM government discharges those international obligations through trade mark law, the action for passing off and special EU legislation.  The EU legislation will cease to apply to the UK after 29 March 2019 except to the extent that it is preserved by s.2 and s.3 of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018.

Paragraph 39 of the white paper on The future relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union states:
"The UK will be establishing its own GI scheme after exit, consistent with the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPS). This new UK framework will go beyond the requirements of TRIPS, and will provide a clear and simple set of rules on GIs, and continuous protection for UK GIs in the UK. The scheme will be open to new applications, from both UK and non-UK applicants, from the day it enters into force."
If the UK leaves the EU with a withdrawal agreement the legislation for this new scheme will be passed in the implementation period that will subsist between 30 March 2019 and 31 Dec 2020.

On 24 Sept 2018 the government published Producing food products protected by a ‘geographical indication’ if there’s no Brexit deal setting out its proposals for protecting geographical indications if there is no withdrawal agreement:
"When we leave the EU we will set up our own GI schemes which will be WTO TRIPS compliant, broadly mirror the current EU regime and be no more burdensome to producers. Details to be explored in a public consultation include the UK GI logo and appeals process. The protections will be similar to those enjoyed now by UK GI producers, with all 86 UK GIs given new UK GI status automatically. The UK would no longer be required to recognise EU GI status. EU producers would be able to apply for UK GI status. We will be publishing guidance on the UK GI schemes in early 2019."
HMG expects the EU to continue to protect British products after Brexit but, should that not be the case, it advises producers to apply for GI protection as third country producers or the registration of their signs with the EU Intellectual Property Office as collective or certification marks,

Anyone wishing to discuss this article or geographical indications generally should call me on 020 7404 5252 during office hours or send me a message through my contact form.