EU becomes member of treaty for better protection of geographical indications

Today the official documents for the European Union to become a member of the Geneva Act were deposited at the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) in Geneva. This is the last step for the EU to become a member of the Geneva Act, a multilateral treaty for the protection of geographical indications (GIs) managed by the WIPO.

Ahead of this deposition, the European Parliament and the Council expressed their support towards the EU becoming a member through a positive vote in the Parliament on 17 September 2019 and the Council’s adoption of the legal package on 7 October 2019. The legal package includes the legal basis for the EU’s accession as well as the rules on how the EU will operate as a member of the Geneva Act.

The Lisbon Agreement for the Protection of Appellations of Origin and their International Registration, which currently comprises 28 members including seven EU Member States, offers a way to secure protection for appellations of origin (AO), a subset of GIs, through a single registration. The Geneva Act modernises the 1958 Lisbon Agreement, extends its scope from AOs to all GIs, and allows international organisations, such as the European Union, to join. EU membership in the Geneva Act will make EU GIs eligible for high-level protection by other parties of the Geneva Act.

The Geneva Act shall enter into force three months after five eligible parties have deposited their instruments of ratification or accession. As the EU will be the fifth eligible party, today’s event will bring this treaty into existence and enter into force end of February 2020.

GIs designate a product originating from a specific geographical area with qualities or characteristics that are essentially linked to the geographical origin, including natural and human factors. GIs also serve to distinguish and reinforce cultural contributions and reward the creativity of traditional know-how. A term registered as a GI – in the EU as a protected geographical indication (PGI), or protected designation of origin (PDO) - can therefore only be used by producers located in the designated area.

Over 3,000 names of wines, spirits and food products from EU countries and non-EU countries are currently registered in the EU, such as Chianti wine, Holland Gouda, Bayonne ham and Ouzo.

European Commission