Lambrusco: Protecting and enforcing a GI for wine products

Like most unique food and wine products whose quality and reputation are strictly linked to their geographical origin, Lambrusco, maybe the most famous sparkling red wine in the world, is protected at European Union level by several geographical indications.

Geographical indications (GIs) are valuable intangible assets and their protection and enforcement constitute a crucial step to retain the related competitive advantage.

This case study, based on the direct experience of the Consorzio Tutela del Lambrusco di Modena, demonstrates how GIs can be successfully enforced in the European Union against conflicting trade mark applications.

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The value of geographical indications for businesses

Some product names have more things to say about themselves than others. They can reflect and evoke qualities and reputation strictly linked to their geographical origin.

Such a special “link” between the quality or reputation of a product and its geographical origin might have a considerable market value and its protection constitutes an important step for producers to gain the related competitive advantage.

Read our brand new fact sheet introducing geographical indications as an invaluable tool to help companies differentiate themselves in the market.

 

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IP enforcement

Intellectual property (IP) can be protected by, among others, IP rights or titles, such as trade marks or patents. Such titles are usually thought to confer negative rights, which means the right to exclude others from using or commercialising, for example, an invention protected under a patent.

This process of not allowing others to use or commercialise protected IP is known as enforcement of rights, which can be done through civil, administrative and penal measures aimed at preventing the unauthorised use of intellectual property, sanctioning such use and providing remedies to right holders for the damage caused by such unauthorised use.

This Fact Sheet illustrates the importance of IP enforcement for businesses and research organisations while providing an overview of the main enforcement actions, together with the latest developments and initiatives of the European Commission in the field.

IP in Education — Education Council adopts conclusions on the future of European education

The Education Council, composed of the education ministers of the European Union, has recently adopted conclusions on moving towards a vision of a European education area as well as recommendations on lifelong learning. 

This far-reaching EU document, which sets out the roadmap for all Member States in its design of educational programmes, acknowledges the work of the IP in Education network managed by the EUIPO and recognises the efforts made by the Observatory's stakeholders and the work the Task Force. 

For further information, click here

New report on trade in counterfeit goods and free trade zones by EUIPO and OECD

The European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) have published a new report on "Trade in counterfeit goods and free trade zones".

This research complements a 2016 study from EUIPO and the OECD which estimated the value of counterfeit products to be 2.5% of world trade – up to EUR 338 billion. 

There are over 3,500 free trade zones in the world. Free trade zones are special economic areas which are often, but not always, set up around ports. Taken together, free trade zones employ 66 million people and generate over EUR 365 billion (USD 500 billion) in direct trade-related added value.

An extra free trade zone within an economy increases the value of counterfeit goods exported from that country by 5.9%.

The full study in English and the Executive Summaries in the 23 language versions can be found here on EUIPO's Observatory on Infringements of Intellectual Property Rights webpage.

The European IPR Helpdesk is looking for case studies: tell us about your IP success story

Would you like your IP success story to be known by thousands of people around Europe?

What about becoming a source of inspiration to SMEs, institutions and researchers?

Tempted?

Then, tell your story as one of the European IPR Helpdesk's case studies and we will spread your success all around Europe!

Case studies are part of the range of publications developed by the European IPR Helpdesk in order to increase awareness of IP. Case studies contain concrete examples on how SMEs, institutions or academics use IP to achieve business success.

The European IPR Helpdesk disseminates case studies free of charge to an audience of more than 13,000 people through its website and through its newsletters, with around 8,000 subscribers.

Check our library if you would like to find out more about our case studies and contact the European IPR Helpdesk's IP advisors, Alejandra Aluja (alejandra.aluja@iprhelpdesk.eu) and Paula Barnola (paula.barnola@iprhelpdesk.eu), if you would like your case study published by the European IPR Helpdesk.

We are looking forward to hearing about your success story!

Quality schemes help EU producers break new markets

The promotion of geographical indications (GI) has helped EU products attract new emerging markets which seek quality food. However, Europol warns that fake GI products are on the rise across the EU and policymakers should not disregard the protection of intellectual property rights.

In a very interesting article, which you can access here, Euractiv explains how EU quality schemes support EU producers and reveals the most relevant threats to them in terms of counterfeiting of GI products. 

Terms & Tools

Geographical Indications: Terms & Tools

Do you know the difference between Roquefort and blue cheese? Roquefort is produced in a particular geographical area conveying its unique characteristics and reputation. Such quality and/or reputational link is protected as a geographical indication (GI) and allows Roquefort producers to compete in the market against numerous similar and undifferentiated products trading primarily on price. The following text shall serve as an introduction to geographical indications and the available mechanisms to protect them.

What is a geographical indication?

A geographical indication is a sign used on products with a specific geographical origin whose qualities and/or reputation are attributable to that origin. In order to function as a GI:

  • The sign must identify a product as originating in a given place (e.g. Chianti identifying a wine originating in the Italian region Chianti);
  • The qualities, characteristics or reputation of the product should be due to the place of origin (the qualities of Chianti are due to the grapes grown in the soil of that specific Italian region).

How are geographical indications protected?

Protection for a GI is obtained by acquiring a right over the name that constitutes the indication (e.g. Chianti). This right can be a specific right designed for GIs (a sui generis protection of GIs) which, depending on the different jurisdiction, may be called a protected GI, a denomination of origin (DO) or an appellation of origin (AO). In many countries, a right to the indication can also be acquired, in application of the relevant trade mark law, through the registration of a collective trade mark and/or a certification mark. While collective trade marks and certification marks are generally protected for renewable ten-year periods, protected GIs are not subject to a specific period of validity. This means that the protection will remain valid unless the GI registration is cancelled.

AO, DO, PGI, PDO… What do these abbreviations stand for?

Appellations of origin (AOs) and denominations of origin (DOs) are special kinds of geographical indications generally implying a stronger link with the place of origin (e.g. the quality and characteristics of a product protected as an AO and a DO must generally result exclusively or essentially from its geographical origin).

Protected geographical indications (PGIs) identify products whose quality or reputation is linked to the place or region where it is produced, processed or prepared, although the ingredients used need not necessarily come from that geographical area. All PGI products must also adhere to a precise set of specifications and may bear the PGI logo. Therefore, products bearing the PGI logo have a specific characteristic or reputation associating them with a given place and at least one stage in the production process must be carried out in that area, while the raw materials used in production may come from another region.

Protected designations of origin (PDOs) identify products that are produced, processed and prepared in a specific geographical area, using the recognised know-how of local producers and ingredients from the region concerned. These are products whose characteristics are strictly linked to their geographical origin and they must adhere to a precise set of specifications and may bear the PDO logo. Therefore, products bearing the PDO logo have proven characteristics resulting solely from the terrain and abilities of producers in the region of production with which they are associated. PDO products thus require all stages of the food production process to be carried out in the area concerned. There must be an objective and close link between the product’s features and its geographical origin.

Searching geographical indications

Geographical names are commonly used in business to describe and promote the features of products or services offered in the marketplace. Indeed, many products display a reference to a geographical origin in their trade mark or packaging. Since such use can conflict with a registered geographical indication and in order to avoid any conflict, several online databases are available to find out if a geographical indication is protected in a certain territory.

At national level...

Some national Intellectual Property Offices (IPOs) provide databases including a list of geographical indications that are protected within the national territory. Therefore, if you want to perform a search at national level, you can contact the relevant IPO, which may (or may not) offer a searchable database of registered GIs. A directory of IP offices is available on the WIPO website.

At European Union level...

A list of nearly 3,400 EU registered GIs can be accessed via four databases maintained by the European Commission:

At international level...

You can consult WIPO’s LISBON EXPRESS to search GIs protected under the Lisbon System.

GI enforcement

When a GI product is counterfeited in the EU, there are a wide range of actions that can be taken. In general, civil and/or penal actions are possible. However, procedure and sanctions vary from one member state to the other. Furthermore, one effective tool against counterfeiting offered by European legislation is represented by the EU customs actions, enabling right holders to request customs authorities to prevent the entry into European Union Member States of goods infringing their intellectual property rights (including GIs). In particular, customs authorities can seize products that seem to violate GI rules and can keep them in custody and destroy them, provided that the owner or the declarant of the seized goods does not oppose the destruction within ten working days from the notification of the seizure (3 days for perishable goods).

Would you like to know more about geographical indications? Check out our Bulletin issue 22 which has been entirely dedicated to the topic.

For further information, see also:

European IPR Helpdesk Factsheet "The value of geographical indications for businesses"

The EUIPO website

The WIPO website

The website of the Organization for an international Geographical Indications Network (OriGIn)

 

 

Two new geographical indications from Austria and Portugal approved by the EC

The European Commission (EC) has recently approved the addition of the following two new products to the register of Protected Geographical Indications (PGI) and Protected Designations of Origin (PDO):

  •  the Austrian “Steirische Käferbohne” (PDO), bi-coloured beans cultivated in the southern province of Styria; and
  •  the Portuguese “Pão de Ló de Ovar” (PGI),  creamy and soft yellow cake with a fine golden brown crust and a moist part interior.

These new denominations have been added to the list of over 1,350 products already protected. More information on PDO and PGI is available on the European Commission webpage on quality products and DOOR database.