From Welsh lamb to Scottish whiskey to Stilton cheese: the ongoing protection of Geographical Designations (GU) of British products after Brexit is likely right now No It causes big problems. However, caution must be exercised in dealing with this issue in future trade talks.
The joint venture concept aims to protect the names of some products in order to promote their unique characteristics, which may be related to their geographical origin in addition to the well-established technical knowledge in the region.
In short: only meat produced in the hills around the Italian city of Parma is later allowed to use the name thanks to JV Parma ham Wear, wear. And the champagne It can only be made if grapes from the French region with the same name are used.
These products can be found abundantly on supermarket shelves in the European Union: they have special labels for local food specialties, including PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) and PGI (Protected Geographical Indication). These product names are also included in the European Union system of intellectual property rights, which makes them Legally protected “against imitation and abuse” Be.
A recent study by the Commission, which collected economic data on each of the 3207 GU-protected products in the European Union, found that products with such geographical indications represent a sales value of over 74 billion euros.
Currently 65 types of British foods are registered as joint ventures in the EU system, including meat products such as Welsh lamb and Gloucestershire Old Spot, but also Stilton cheese, Scottish whiskey and Jersey Royale potatoes. However, as with many other things, Brexit will partially change the situation.
What are the changes?
The joint venture issue is covered in the section on the EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement devoted to intellectual property. In particular, Article 54 states that all geographical indications that are already registered in the European Union by 31 December 2020 (the so-called “herd”) will remain protected in the United Kingdom.
A spokeswoman for the UK Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) told EURACTIV.com: “All product names that were protected in the European Union before the end of the transition period will remain protected in the UK.”
British producers will also still have access to the EU joint venture scheme and can apply for EU protection – just like all other producers from third countries. However, new joint ventures entered into the European Union registry after 1 January 2021 are protected only within the territory of the European Union and not necessarily also in the individual third countries with which the corresponding contracts have been negotiated.
This means, among other things, that manufacturers in the European Union have to submit a similar application to the British authorities in order to also obtain GU protection in the United Kingdom. Likewise, applicants for EU JVs that relate to UK products will first have to register their products with a UK JV in order to access the EU system.
According to Iona Silverman, an intellectual property expert at Freeths law firm, that is the only downside to the existing agreements. “It is a purely procedural matter and is unlikely to cause any major problems,” she confidently told EURACTIV.com.
Meanwhile, the UK is setting up its own joint venture system, managed by DEFRA. A DEFRA spokeswoman confirmed: “The UK’s new joint venture regulations will ensure that we continue to recognize and protect original products and recipes across the UK.”
For its part, the agency is actively promoting the use of new UK joint venture logos on products. This also occurs as part of already existing food and beverage advertising actions, such as the “Food is Great” campaign. A DEFRA spokeswoman added that UK protected EU products also qualify for the use of the new UK logos if manufacturers so desire.
Special regulation for Northern Ireland: The European Union system remains in place
The situation is somewhat different in Northern Ireland, where European Union law on geographical indications continues to apply as a result of the Northern Ireland Protocol. This means that the protection of geographical indications of the European Union will continue to expand to cover Northern Ireland, even if only the corresponding products are registered after the end of the transition period. The protection of geographical indications also continues under the international agreements of the European Union.
The reason for this exception is that some Irish joint venture products such as whiskey are produced in both Northern Ireland and Ireland.
Legal expert Silverman warned EURACTIV.com: “At this point in time, it is difficult to evaluate other scenarios, but if different rules are negotiated and there is a difference, this will lead to some irregularities.” “Northern Ireland is part of the UK: if we drive a wedge between the common UK and EU rules, we risk such a wedge between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK,” she says.
When asked by EURACTIV.com, a source from the Commission said that the European Union was not aware of any problems implementing the Northern Ireland Protocol regarding geographic designations.
Along with tariffs and trade facilitation, general contractors are always seen as potential points of contention in EU trade talks with third countries: “General contractors are an important point in trade talks,” Silverman stresses. She pointed to reports that there were already disagreements on this point over the exact interpretation of the UK withdrawal agreement.
Her conclusion: The GUs “are not a real stumbling block, but a problem always on the table. As far as I know, the UK wants to negotiate looser rules. It is clear that both the UK government and the EU will try to maximize each other’s benefits.”
[Bearbeitet von Josie Le Blond]