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GEOGRAPHICAL INDICATIONS – IMPACT OF BREXIT
The Brexit transition period ends on 31 December 2020. Amongst the IP rights that will be affected are Geographical Indications (GIs) – a label given to products that come from a specific geographical location and that have a reputation associated with being produced there. GIs are particularly relevant in the food and beverage industries.
All existing UK products registered under the EU’s GI schemes by the end of the transition period will remain protected under the UK GI schemes and will continue to receive protection in the EU. In the event of a no-deal Brexit, though, the UK will longer be required to recognise EU GIs and EU producers will need to apply to the UK.
GI protection will also continue after the end of the transition period for products currently named in EU free trade agreements where the UK has signed a continuity agreement and any EU third country sectoral agreements where the UK has signed a continuity agreement. Details of those countries may be found here.
CROSS BORDER GIS
GIs that can be produced anywhere on the island of Ireland (i.e. in Ireland or Northern Ireland) are covered by cross border GIs. Existing registrations, which include Irish Whiskey, Irish Cream and Irish Poteen will continue to be fully protected in the UK and the EU.
New schemes will be launched in the UK after the transition period ends. The new schemes will allow protection of the geographical names of products including food, drink and agricultural products (including beer, cider and perry), spirit drinks, wine and aromatised wine, under the designations
- Protected Designation of Origin (PDO);
- Protected Geographical Indication (PGI); and
- Traditionally Speciality Guaranteed (TSG).
The schemes will be open to producers from the UK and other countries.
Producers will need to apply to the relevant UK scheme to protect a new product name in Great Britain (GB) and the EU scheme to protect a new product name in Northern Ireland (NI) and the EU. Producers in Great Britain will need to secure protection under the UK schemes before applying to the EU schemes. NI producers will not need to secure protection under the EU schemes before applying to the UK, though.
MARKING OF GOODS
To go along with the new UK designations, new UK GI logos have been released and are available here. Food and agricultural GI products registered after the transition period and for sale in Great Britain must use the new logos from registration. Food and agricultural GI products covered by existing GIs and for sale in Great Britain may use the existing logos until January 2024, but from that date, the new logos must be used on all packaging and marketing materials. For producers or retailers of food and agricultural GI products in Northern Ireland, it will be mandatory to continue using the EU logos when the product is on sale in Northern Ireland if the product is registered under the EU GI schemes, but optional to use the new UK GI logos if the product is registered under the UK GI schemes. The logos are optional for wine and spirit GIs.
Defra will publish further guidance for producers on how to apply to the UK and EU schemes at the end of the transition period. We’ll provide a further update then. In the meantime, producers and retailers should also bear in mind the Brexit-related changes to UK and EU trade marks that may affect their products. More details may be found here.
This article is for guidance only and should not be taken as legal advice. If you have questions on GIs please contact our food and drink team.