Geographic Indications FAQ
Q. What are Geographic Indications?
A. A geographical indication is a distinctive sign used to identify a product as originating in the territory of a particular country, region or locality where its quality, reputation or other characteristic is linked to its geographical origin.
Q. How many types of GIs are there?
A. There are three types of GIs that the European Union Commission issues: Protected Geographic Indication (PGI), Protected Designation of Origin (PDO), and Traditional Specialty Guaranteed (TSG). PGIs designate farm and food products whose characteristics are strictly linked to a geographic area in which their production, processing or preparation takes place. PDOs designate farm and food products whose characteristics are strictly linked to a geographic area in which their production, processing and preparation all take place. To obtain a PGI, one must conduct at least one of the aforementioned food preparative steps in the concerned geographic area, whereas for a PDO, all three steps must take place in the concerned geographic area. Finally, TSGs highlight a traditional aspect of a product, be it an active ingredient or the way in which it is produced.
A. One the benefit of GIs could very well be fraud detection. Since GIs are EU-regulated certifications that guarantee the origin of a product and, depending on the type of GI, provide information regarding a product’s production, processing and preparation, the consumer can be certain that a product with a GI is authentic. In this way, GI labels serve to undermine geographical indication imitation.
Another benefit of GIs is that, by separating the true products from their imposters, they can add value to protected products and preserve tradition in the production areas. GIs protect a whole class of firms producing the same good product in a local economy. Consequently, both producers and consumers stand to benefit from GIs and their protection and promotion of geographic origin.
Q. Who can apply for GIs?
A. Anybody! Products do not have to originate from within the European Union to qualify for GIs. In fact, certain American goods such as wines from Napa Valley have already obtained PDO recognition in the European Union, Brazil, Canada, India, Thailand, New Zealand and Norway.
Q. How is the EU promoting GIs?
A. The EU is currently promoting GIs in the framework of the Agreement on Trade-Related aspects of Intellectual Property Rights with the World Trade Organization. Bilaterally, the EU is working with China on specific GI agreements and has included them as a key topic in the free-trade negotiations with between themselves and Canada, Japan, Vietnam, Moldova and Georgia, to name a few.
G. Can GIs be given to non-agricultural products?
A. There are currently a total of 28 non-agricultural products that are protected both in and outside of the EU, but these protections are not assigned by the EU. The European Union Commission is currently evaluating the pros and cons of a system for non-agricultural GIs