You may not be familiar with the trade mark related term ‘geographical indication’ (GI). However, more than likely you have eaten a product protected by a GI: such as Parma Ham, Champagne and Roquefort cheese to name a few. GIs are protected by a number of EU Regulations which will no longer apply to the UK at the end of the Brexit Transition Period. As with other IP related rights, the European Commission (EC) and UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) have released guidance on how GIs will be protected after Brexit.  

EC Notice 

Key Points:

  • EU GIs currently protected will remain protected in the UK post-transition period without the need for any further application.
  • Pending applications for EU GIs at the end of the transition period, if later granted, will no longer cover the UK after the end of transition period.
  • Applications for EU GIs relating to products originating in the UK must comply with the conditions that apply to EU GIs from third countries after the end of the transition period.
  • Protection of EU GIs registered before and after the end of the transition period will continue to extend to Northern Ireland, and Northern Ireland will not have a separate national scheme.

UKIPO Notice 

Key points:

  • UK will set up its own GI schemes, fulfilling its WTO obligations post-Brexit. These schemes will broadly mirror the EU regime and be no more burdensome to producers.
  • All existing UK products registered under EU GI schemes by the end of the transition period will remain protected in the UK under the UK GI schemes.
  • Applications for new GIs will need to be made according to the relevant UK scheme. The schemes will be open to producers from the UK and other countries.
  • For UK food and agricultural GI products, it will be necessary to use the UK GI logo on packaging (and comply with rules as to its size and position) by 1 January 2024.

A final thought 

If, for some reason, UK right holders cannot take advantage of a new UK GI regime, it may be possible for them to rely on a claim in extended passing off in order to protect their rights.

Thank you very much to Emily Costello for her research in preparing this post.