Providing continued recognition and protection of Geographical Indications in the EU and UK
This paper outlines the United Kingdom’s (UK) position and approach to ensure a smooth and orderly withdrawal from the European Union (EU) and the freest possible future economic relationship in regard to geographical indications (Gls).
GIs recognise the heritage and provenance of products, mostly food and drink, which have a strong traditional or cultural connection to a particular place. They provide registered products with legal protection against imitation, and protect consumers from being misled about the quality or geographical origin of goods.
The GI scheme is held in high regard across the EU and the UK, with currently 3,355 EU GIs and 852 UK GIs registered on EU GI schemes.
GIs are especially important in the devolved administrations and crown dependencies, where they contribute significantly to local economies – the top six UK GIs by value are from Scotland and Wales. The UK Government will continue to work with the devolved administrations as we progress negotiations with the EU. We will fully engage with their respective governments to ensure their priorities on these issues are taken into account.
Geographical indications in the context of separation
Existing UK GIs protected under relevant sectoral EU legislation should remain unaffected by the UK’s withdrawal from the EU treaties as they have already been recognised as qualifying for GI status. That legislation imposes specific grounds for the cancellation of GIs from the EU scheme, none of which relate to a change in status from a Member State to a third country.
Geographical indications in the context of the future relationship
The UK’s objectives for Gls are to maintain effective protection for UK producers of GI products in the UK and the EU, and to ensure that consumers are not confused or misled as to the geographical origin of goods. GI protection benefits producers, who greatly value the formal recognition of the qualities of their products that it brings, and consumers who value the assurance the GI label provides.
The UK is committed to upholding the principles of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).
The UK will establish a UK GI scheme through legislation under the EU (Withdrawal) Bill to continue to protect GIs and fulfil the UK’s WTO obligations under TRIPS
The UK will establish a new UK Gl scheme which is fair to both producers and consumers and transparent. The EU (Withdrawal) Bill will replicate in domestic law the framework of rules that govern the EU GI schemes for wines, aromatised wines, spirits, and agricultural products and foodstuffs. The UK will also ensure the trade mark and Gl frameworks remain complementary to each other.
The UK will protect, by including on the UK’s new register, all UK GIs registered under the EU schemes at the time of Exit. The UK will also add to the UK register any products which the UK has formally submitted to the Commission for registration at the time of exit. ln addition, the GIs held jointly by the UK and the Republic of Ireland, and the GIs registered by producers from the UK’s Crown Dependencies will automatically be included on the UK’s new register.
To protect the rights of producers and consumers. the UK will need to be satisfied that for any existing EU GI to be registered under the UK’s new scheme they meet the requirements of UK law.
The determination of which existing EU GIs will be included on the UK register will be the subject of negotiations on the future economic relationship. Both consumers and producers would benefit from an approach that does not cause confusion and therefore the new UK scheme will not protect any GIs that are identical with a term customary in common language as permitted under TRIPS.
The UK will take account of international standards, such as the Codex Alimentarius standards for food, while determining the protection of existing EU GIs and future GIs from any country.
The UK agrees with the EU that there needs to be adequate cooperation and the transfer of relevant data relating to existing GIs. To facilitate the implementation of the above approach, adequate cooperation and the transfer of relevant data relating to existing EU GIs that are included on the UK register should also be agreed as part of the future relationship negotiations.
Implementing this approach will maintain effective protection for producers of GI products in the UK and the EU. It will make sure consumers are not misled as to the geographical origin of goods. This approach also represents a starting point for providing continued recognition and protection of GIs from the UK and the EU, and the promotion of a strong ongoing cultural and economic relationship.