HomeInsightsEuropean Commission proposes framework to protect European craft and industrial products

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The Commission has proposed a new framework to protect the intellectual property for craft and industrial products that rely on the originality and authenticity of traditional practices from their regions.

The framework will cover products such as Murano glass, Donegal tweed, Porcelaine de Limoges, Solingen cutlery and Boleslawiec pottery. While these products benefit from a European and sometimes global reputation and standing, producers have so far lacked an EU indication protection linking their products’ origin and reputation to their quality.

Drawing on the success of the geographical indication system for wine-spirit drinks and agricultural products, the Commission proposes enabling producers to protect craft and industrial products associated with their region and their traditional know-how, with effects in Europe and beyond. The Regulation, providing for an EU indication protection, will make it easier for consumers to recognise the quality of such products and make more informed choices. It will help to promote, attract and retain skills and jobs in Europe’s regions, contributing to their economic development. The proposal would also ensure that traditional craft and industrial products are put on an equal footing with protected geographical indications that already exist in the agricultural area.

The Commission proposes that the Regulation will:

  • establish EU-wide protection for geographical indications of craft and industrial products: to help producers protect and enforce the intellectual property rights of their products across the EU; to facilitate action against fake products, including those sold online, and address the currently fragmented and partial protections that currently exist at national level;
  • enable simple and cost-efficient registration of GIs for craft and industrial products: by establishing a two-level application process requiring producers to file their GI applications to designated Member States’ authorities, who will then submit successful applications for further evaluation and approval to the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO); a direct application procedure to EUIPO will also be possible for Member States that do not have a national evaluation procedure in place; the proposal also offers the possibility for producers to self-declare compliance of their products with the product specifications, making the system lighter and less costly;
  • allow full compatibility with international GI protection: by enabling producers of registered craft and industrial GIs to protect their products in all countries that are signatories of the Geneva Act on Appellations of Origin and Geographical Indications under the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), to which the EU acceded in November 2019 and which covers craft and industrial GIs; at the same time, it will be possible to protect corresponding GIs from third countries within the EU; and
  • support the development of Europe’s rural and other regions: by providing incentives for producers, especially SMEs, to invest in new authentic products and create niche markets; by helping to retain unique skills that might otherwise disappear, particularly in Europe’s rural and less developed regions, which will contribute to promote tourism and create new highly skilled jobs in the regions, thereby boosting their economic recovery.

To read the Commission’s press release in full and for a link to the proposed Regulation, click here.