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Report on Infringement of Geographical Indications in the EU published by EUIPO

In the European Union (EU), Geographical Indications (GIs) for wine, spirits, agricultural products and foodstuffs are protected as sui generis intellectual property rights that act as certification that certain products possess particular qualities, characteristics or reputation essentially attributable to their geographical origin and method of production.

The main objective of published by EUIPO study is to assess the size and value of the EU GI product market (for wine, spirits, agricultural products and foodstuffs) and the proportion of products that infringe GIs protected in the EU as sui generis intellectual property rights. The associated impact of these infringements on EU consumers is also estimated. Impacts arising from the lack of protection of GIs in third countries are out of scope.

A GI is an indication (usually a name) used on products that have a specific geographical origin and possess a given quality, reputation or other characteristic that is essentially attributable to that origin. For example, “Bordeaux” is a GI for wine originating from the region of Bordeaux where it has been produced since the eighth century. Other examples of GIs include “Champagne”, “Scotch Whisky”, “Parmigiano Reggiano”, “Prosciutto di Parma” or “Bayerisches Bier”. Protection of GIs as a sui generis IP right can be granted at EU level for GI products (wine, spirits, agricultural products and foodstuffs) originating from third countries.

These names (GI) can be protected in the EU as sui generis IP rights via one of two routes. The first, PDO, is more demanding and covers products which are produced, processed and prepared in a given geographical area whose quality or characteristics are essentially or exclusively due to a particular geographical environment with its inherent natural and human factors. The second route is via PGI, which covers products in which at least one of the stages of production, processing or preparation takes place in the area and whose quality, reputation or other characteristics are essentially attributable to its geographical origin. PDO and PGI are defined in EU legislation as quality schemes together with other non-GI quality schemes, such as Traditional Specialty Guaranteed (TSG) and quality terms such as Mountain Product and Island Farming. Only PDO and PGI are EU GI schemes and therefore within the scope of this study. In the case of spirit drinks and aromatised wines, the legislation does not provide for protected designation of origin (PDO); only the second route is available to those products. Protected GIs for spirit drinks and aromatised wines are also within the scope of this study.

This study considers the scope of protection of GIs as defined in EU law, and therefore includes not only the false or misleading use of a protected GI but also the marketing of GI products that do not actually originate in the place indicated by the GI in question. In legal terms infringement is considered as any unauthorised use under Article 13 “Protection” of Regulation (EU) No 1151/2012 (and similar provisions in the other Regulations). Specifically, infringements, as defined in Article 13(1) of the Regulation, include:

(a) any direct or indirect commercial use of a registered name in respect of products not covered by the registration where those products are comparable to the products registered under that name or where using the name exploits the reputation of the protected name, including when those products are used as an ingredient;

(b) any misuse, imitation or evocation, even if the true origin of the products or services is indicated or if the protected name is translated or accompanied by an expression such as ‘style’, ‘type’, ‘method’, ‘as produced in’, ‘imitation’ or similar, including when those products are used as an ingredient;

(c) any other false or misleading indication as to the provenance, origin, nature or essential qualities of the product that is used on the inner or outer packaging, advertising material or documents relating to the product concerned, and the packing of the product in a container liable to convey a false impression as to its origin;

(d) any other practice liable to mislead the consumer as to the true origin of the product.

These infringements are also relevant when the products are used as ingredients. Infringements committed either by non-certified or certified producers or retailers are included in the scope.