The unique protection afforded to Geographical Indications (GIs)
such as Welsh Lamb and Single GloucesterCheese is currently provided under EU Regulation and takes
effect in the UK without any national implementation. Agricultural
products and foodstuffs from particular regions can be afforded the
status of Protected Geographical Indications (PGIs) which are
unitary rights and like EU trade marks will not in principle extend
the UK post-Brexit.
PGIs belong to a collective group of producers who are all
entitled to apply the Geographical Indication to their products.
The aim is to prevent producers whose products do not originate
from a particular area from applying the PGI and as such provide
those with the right to use it with a competitive advantage. There
is an expectation for instance, that Scotch Whisky will be
produced in Scotland and will be of a particular quality.
Protection of Scotch Whisky as a PGI and the ability to
therefore regulate its use has ensured that this is the case.
Producers have been concerned that a potential loss of rights in
the UK as a result of Brexit could see an influx of damaging
imports. However, whilst at this stage nothing is certain,
negotiations towards a post-Brexit position will focus on
preserving existing rights and putting in place transitional
provisions to recognise existing PGIs in the UK or to allow their
conversion into national rights are anticipated.
As PGIs are currently available to countries outside the EU, it
is likely that UK producers will retain the right to hold EU-wide
PGIs even after the UK's exit. In terms of national protection
however, the UK's obligations under the TRIPS Agreement (Trade
Related Aspects of Intellectual Property) will require it to
legislate for an equivalent PGI system, which will be crucial for
UK producers and will provide the framework for recognition of
rights in future trade arrangements.
The EU has been extremely supportive of geographical
indications, which has seen them feature heavily in reciprocal
trade deals. It seems likely therefore that the mutual recognition
of EU and (future) UK rights will be a requirement for trade
negotiations with the UK in the run up to and after
Brexit. The UK therefore needs a framework in place for
recognition of these rights and now is the time for producers and
their representative associations to lobby the Government and make
their views known.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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