Insights EU Council adopts position on proposed Regulation on geographical indication protection for craft and industrial items


In 2022, the European Commission proposed legislation granting EU-wide geographical indication (“GI”) protection to crafts and industrial products which have qualities or characteristics linked to the area of production (e.g. Limoges porcelain). Similar to the existing GI protection for agricultural products, these rules aim to foster innovation and investment in locally-renowned products, such as glass, lace and jewellery, by helping artisans and producers to fight counterfeit products across the EU and reassuring EU consumers that they are buying a genuine product. The Regulation will also harmonise differing current national rules in relating to GI rights in craft and industrial products.

In May 2023, the Council of the EU, the EU Parliament and the EU Commission reached a provisional agreement on the Regulation and the Parliament formally adopted the text of that provisional agreement in September 2023. The Council has now also formally adopted the Regulation in the form approved by the Parliament.

The rules provide a two-step registration process starting at national level followed by an examination of the application by the EU Intellectual Property Office (“EUIPO“), although Member States may request an exemption from setting up a national procedure in which case the EUIPO will take charge of the whole procedure. GI applications from non-EU countries will be made directly to the EUIPO. It will be possible to convert existing national registrations into EU-wide registrations.

Registration will be permitted on the basis of a self-declaration of compliance with the product specification, the document which must confirm, amongst other things, that the product’s quality, reputation or other characteristic are essentially attributable to its geographical origin, one of the requirements that must be met in order to qualify for GI registration. Registration decisions of the EUIPO will be appealable up to the Court of Justice of the EU.

Protection against infringement extends to the unauthorised use of the GI on the same or similar products or where it otherwise tarnishes the reputation of the GI. Protection also extends to any “misuse, imitation or evocation” of the GI, even if the true origin of the goods or services is indicated or if the GI is translated or is accompanied by an expression such as “style”, “type”, “imitation” etc. “Evocation” shall be “deemed to arise, in particular, where a sufficiently direct and clear link with the product covered by the registered geographical indication is created in the mind of the average European consumer who is reasonably well-informed and reasonably observant and circumspect.” The scope of the protection against infringement extends to any such unauthorised use in a domain name.

National authorities will be responsible for enforcement, including ensuring the goods placed on the market match their product specifications.

This is the final stage of the legislative procedure. The Regulation will enter into force 20 days after publication in the Official Journal, likely to be in November, and will apply two years from that date.

For more information, click here. To access the adopted text, click here.