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The European Union joins the international act on Appellations of Origin and Geographical Indications

EU institutions officially approved the accession of the European Union to the Geneva Act of the Lisbon Agreement, a multilateral treaty for the protection of geographical indications managed by the World Intellectual Property Organisation. An agreement was already reached in March, paving the way to the official membership of the EU.

The Geneva Act of the Lisbon Agreement on Appellations of Origin and Geographical Indications was adopted in 2015. Major revisions consist in an extended scope. Indeed, Protected Designation of Origin (PDOs) already benefitted from a multilateral protection framework at international level, however only bilateral agreements were until now protecting geographical indications. The new Act is no longer limited to appellations of origin and will protect at international level all geographical indications.

The Geneva Act does not replace the European legislation protecting appellations of origin and geographical indications. It offers, however, a new international scope for their protection. Products will for instance be protected against any commercial imitation, even if accompanied by terms such as “style”, “kind”, “type”. This level of protection can help in preserving protected mountain products from commercial abuses in the context of international trade development – it does not however include the optional quality term “mountain products”, only geographical indications are covered by this Agreement.

Such a protection is crucial to preserve the know-hows of mountain producers. In addition to the optional quality term “mountain product” many productions from mountain areas benefit from a geographical indication. As presented in the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre policy report from 2013 “Labelling of agricultural and food products of mountain farming”, about one third of PDO and PGI products registered are for instance fully or significantly located in mountain areas, conducting to a higher concentration of these products in European mountain territories than in lowlands.

For more information on the Geneva Act and its process of adoption, please see our previous post The EU ready to legislate on a worldwide protection of Geographical Indications?

16 October 2019

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