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Protected Designation of Origin (PDO), Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) and Traditional Speciality Guaranteed (TSG) are geographical indications, or more precisely regimes within the Protected Geographical Status (PGS) framework[1] defined in European Union law to protect the names of regional foods. The law (enforced within the EU and being gradually expanded internationally via bilateral agreements of the EU with non-EU countries) ensures that only products genuinely originating in that region are allowed in commerce as such. The legislation came into force in 1992. The purpose of the law is to protect the reputation of the regional foods and eliminate the unfair competition and misleading of consumers by non-genuine products,[2] which may be of inferior quality or of different flavour.

These laws protect the names of wines, cheeses, hams, sausages, olives, beers, Balsamic vinegar and even regional breads, fruits, and vegetables.

Foods such as Gorgonzola, Parmigiano-Reggiano, Melton Mowbray pork pies, Asiago cheese, Camembert de Normandie and Champagne can only be labelled as such if they come from the designated region. To qualify as Roquefort, for example, cheese must be made from milk of a certain breed of sheep, and matured in the natural caves near the town of Roquefort in the Aveyron region of France, where it is infected with the spores of a fungus (Penicillium roqueforti) that grows in these caves.

This system is similar to Appellation systems throughout the world, such as the Appellation d'origine contrôlée (AOC) used in France, the Denominazione di origine controllata (DOC) used in Italy, the Denominação de Origem Controlada (DOC) used in Portugal, and the Denominación de Origen (DO) system used in Spain. In many cases, the EU PDO/PGI system works parallel with the system used in the specified country, and in some cases is subordinated to the appellation system that was already instituted, particularly with wine, for example, and in France (in particular) with cheese, for example Maroilles (as most others) has both PDO (AOP in French) and AOC classifications, but generally only the AOC classification will be shown.

Contents

Protection and enforcement

Only products which meet the various geographical and quality criteria may use the protected indication. It is also prohibited to combine the indication with words such as "style", "type", "imitation" or "method" in connection with the protected indications, or to do anything which might imply that the product meets the specifications (e.g., using distinctive packaging associated with the protected product).

Protected indications are treated as intellectual property rights by the Customs Regulation 1383/2003 (Regulation concerning customs action against goods suspected of infringing certain intellectual property rights and the measures to be taken against goods found to have infringed such rights),[1] and infringing goods may be seized by customs on import. Within the European Union enforcement measures vary: infringement may be treated as counterfeit, misleading advertising, passing off or even as a question of public health.

Objectives of the protection

As with other intellectual property rights, the use of geographical indications is intended to increase the income of rightholders. The preambles to the Regulations cite consumer demand for quality foodstuffs and identify a number of goals for the protection regimes:

  • the promotion of products with specific characteristics, particularly those coming from less-favoured or rural areas;
  • the improvement of the income of farmers, in return for a "genuine effort to improve quality";
  • the retention of population in rural areas;
  • the provision of clear and succinct information to consumers regarding product origin.

The provision of a recompense for efforts to improve quality and the need for consumer protection are often cited as justifications for trade mark protection in other domains, and geographical indications operate in a similar manner to trade marks.

General regime

The general regime governs the use of protected designations of origin (PDO) and protected geographical indications (PGI) for food and certain other agricultural products. There are separate regimes for spirits and for aromatized drinks (geographical designations) as well as for wines (geographical indications, often referred to as appellations). The origin of the product is only one of the criteria for use of the protected terms: the product must also meet various quality criteria. The label "Traditional Speciality Guaranteed" (TSG) is a similar protected term which does not impose any restrictions on the geographical origin of the product.

The protection of geographical indications was extended to foodstuffs and other agricultural products in 1992.[2] Given the widely different national provisions, this "general regime" gives much more power to the European Commission (compared to the special regimes) to ensure a harmonized protection across the European Union. It is currently governed by the Regulation on the protection of geographical indications and designations of origin for agricultural products and foodstuffs (No 510/2006).[3]

To qualify for a PDO, the product must have qualities and characteristics which are essentially due to its region of production: it must also be produced, processed and prepared exclusively within that region. The requirement for a PGI are slightly less strict; a good reputation of a product from a given region is sufficient (rather than objectively different characteristics) if any of the steps of production, processing and preparation may take place within the region. Otherwise the protection afforded by the two terms is equivalent.

An application for a PDO or a PGI is first made to the authorities of the relevant Member State. It is judged by the Member State against the criteria in the Regulation and, if found to be acceptable, forwarded to the European Commission for final approval. Applications are published at both the national and Community stages of examination, and third parties can object to proposed PDOs or PGIs which they feel would harm their business. A recurrent objection is that the proposed denomination is a generic term for the product in question: generic names cannot be registered but, once registered, the denominations are protected from genericization. Hence Cheddar cheese was deemed to be a generic name, but the PDO "West Country farmhouse Cheddar cheese" was allowed.[3] Feta was deemed not to have become generic, and was registered as a PDO to the disappointment of cheesemakers outside of Greece.

Description of the regimes

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Protected designation of origin (PDO)

The Protected designation of origin is the name of an area, a specific place or, in exceptional cases, the name of a country, used as a designation for an agricultural product or a foodstuff,

  • which comes from such an area, place or country,
  • whose quality or properties are significantly or exclusively determined by the geographical environment, including natural and human factors,
  • whose production, processing and preparation takes place within the determined geographical area.

In other words, to receive the PDO status, the entire product must be traditionally and ENTIRELY manufactured (prepared, processed AND produced) within the specific region and thus acquire unique properties.

Protected geographical indication (PGI)

The Protected geographical indication is the name of an area, a specific place or, in exceptional cases, the name of a country, used as a description of an agricultural product or a foodstuff,

  • which comes from such an area, place or country,
  • which has a specific quality, goodwill or other characteristic property, attributable to its geographical origin,
  • whose production, processing or preparation takes place within the determined geographical area.

In other words, to receive the PGI status, the entire product must be traditionally and at least PARTIALLY manufactured (prepared, processed OR produced) within the specific region and thus acquire unique properties.

Traditional speciality guaranteed (TSG)

The Traditional speciality guaranteed is a trademark for an agricultural product or a foodstuff, which has a certain feature or a set of features, setting it clearly apart from other similar products or foodstuffs belonging to the same category. The product or foodstuff must be manufactured using traditional ingredients or must be characteristic for its traditional composition, production process, or processing reflecting a traditional type of manufacturing or processing.

In other words, to receive a TSG status, the product does not have to be manufactured in a specific geographically delimited area; it is sufficient that it be traditional and different from other similar products.

Relationship to trade mark law

In principle, a similar protection to a geographical indication could be obtained through a collective trade mark. Indications which serve exclusively to identify the place of origin of goods are not registrable as trade marks under Art. 6quinquies.B.2 of the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property (Paris Convention), which has effect in European Union law by Art. 7 of the Regulation on the Community trade mark (No 40/94)[4] and by Art. 3 of the Directive to approximate the laws of the Member States relating to trade marks (89/104/EEC):[5] however marks which also serve to identify the quality of a product originating in a certain region may be registered so long as they have not become generic in the trade concerned. Trade marks which have been registered before the registration of a PDO or a PGI may continue to be used, but the registration of an equivalent trade mark after the approval of a PDO or PGI is impossible (Art. 13, Regulation (EC) No 510/2006). The existence of a trade mark (registered or unregistered) may be a reason to refuse the registration of a PDO or a PGI [Art. 7(3)(c), Regulation (EC) No 510/2006]. Hence the Polish geographical designation "Herbal vodka from the North Podlasie Lowland aromatised with an extract of bison grass" or Wódka ziołowa z Niziny Północnopodlaskiej aromatyzowana ekstraktem z trawy żubrowej, so phrased as to avoid infringing the trade mark "Żubrówka".

Special regimes

The protection of geographical indications for wines and other alcoholic drinks was historically the first to be developed at both national and Community level. It is also the only protection which is recognized by the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), administered by the World Trade Organization, although the European Union is pushing for other geographical indications to be included in the Doha Round of world trade negotiations.

Wines

European Union rules governing the production of wine ("the product obtained exclusively from the total or partial alcoholic fermentation of fresh grapes, whether or not crushed, or of grape must") are considerably longer than Community trade mark law: the main text, the Regulation on the common organization of the market in wine (No 1493/1999),[6] runs to over 46,000 words. To be considered as a "quality wine", the wine must come from a specified region and be associated with a "geographical indication" or appellation: indeed, the technical term used in the Regulation is quality wine psr, with the "psr" standing for "produced in a specified region". Wines which do not meet this requirement may only be marketed as table wine.

Despite (or perhaps because of) the traditional importance of appellations for wine, there has been little harmonization of national provisions within the European Union. Member States delimit the specified areas of production and determine the rules and appellations which apply: the European Commission restricts itself to publishing the information provided by the Member States. Appellations are usually the geographical name of the area in which the wine is produced, although there are some historical exceptions: muscadet and blanquette in France, cava and manzanilla in Spain and vinho verde in Portugal. The appellations are not necessarily unique: Cava may refer either to a quality sparkling wine psr produced in Spain or to a Greek table wine which has been aged (as a transliteration of "Κάβα").

Spirits

The Regulation laying down general rules on the definition, description and presentation of spirit drinks (No 1576/89)[7] provides for a double system of protection of spirit descriptions. Spirits are divided into 21 categories, which each have rules for fabrication and minimum strength. Within these categories, certain names are reserved for drinks from particular countries, for example ouzo, which is aniseed-flavoured spirit drink which must have been produced exclusively in Greece or Cyprus, or grappa, which is a grape marc spirit produced in Italy. The Regulation also defines a number of geographical designations, which are reserved for drinks which "acquired their character and definitive qualities" in the area denominated. The exact delimitation of the areas and any other regulations are left to the Member States concerned. By way of derogation, the designations Königsberger Bärenfang and Ostpreußischer Bärenfang are permitted for certain German drinks even though they refer to Königsberg (Kaliningrad) and East Prussia which are no longer part of Germany.

Aromatized drinks

The Regulation laying down general rules on the definition, description and presentation of aromatized wines, aromatized wine-based drinks and aromatized wine-product cocktails (No 1601/91)[8] institutes a system of protected denominations for aromatized drinks which is very similar to that for spirits. The association of general names with specific countries is weaker: a drink labelled simply "Sangria" must have been produced in Spain or Portugal, for example, but it is permissible to label a drink "Sangria produced in the United Kingdom: aromatized wine-based drink" if the drink meets the other requirements to be described as sangria. Similarly, the denomination "Clarea" on its own is reserved for drinks produced in Spain. The protected geographical designations are:

  • Nürnberger Glühwein (Germany)
  • Vermouth de Chambéry (France)
  • Vermouth di Torino (Italy)

Within the European Union

Article 13 of this legislation states that registered designations are protected against:

... any usurpation or imitation, even if the true origin of the product is indicated or if the appellation is used in translated form or accompanied by terms such as "kind", "type"...

This legislation expanded the 1951 Stresa Convention, which was the first international agreement on cheese names. Seven countries participated: Austria, Denmark, France, Italy, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland.

Stilton - an example of an origin protected product.

Selected products include Prosciutto Toscano (PDO) from Italy, Marchfeldspargel (PGI) from Austria, Lübecker Marzipan (PGI) from Germany, Scotch Beef and Lamb (PGI) from Scotland, bryndza also known as bundz sheep's milk cheese, and oscypek smoked sheep's milk exclusively from approved regions of Tatra mountain in southern Poland. Coffee from Colombia, produced by the Federación Nacional de Cafeteros de Colombia is the first non-EU product with this kind of protection, added on August 13, 2007. This also means that the coffee from Colombia will be more expensive than other types of coffee, but it will have special legal protection against other brands that claim to be Colombian coffee.

For reasons of practicality some products that were traditionally made in a specific region are not subject to the PDO, often due to the quantities in which they are consumed; for example, the consumption of Cheddar cheese in the US alone is many times the amount Cheddar itself could feasibly produce. Hence the "Cheddar" name is not protected, but the more specific name "West Country farmhouse Cheddar" is.

The geographical limitations can be quite strict. "Newcastle Brown Ale" was restricted to being brewed in the city of Newcastle upon Tyne in England. However, having obtained this protection for their product, the brewery decided in 2004 that it would move across the river Tyne to Gateshead. As Gateshead is technically a separate town—albeit only the width of a river apart—it does not fall within the required geographical restriction. The brewery then applied to the European Union authorities to have the geographical restriction revoked. If the restriction had not been revoked, the brewery would have been forced either to move back to Newcastle, or stop calling its beer "Newcastle" brown ale.[4] Ultimately, the brewery's application to revoke the geographic restriction was approved.[5] Similarly, Stilton cheese can only be produced in the three English counties of Derbyshire, Leicestershire, and Nottinghamshire. Stilton village is in the traditional county of Huntingdonshire, now a district of Cambridgeshire, so Stilton cheese cannot be produced in Stilton (although it is unclear whether the cheese was ever actually produced in Stilton).

Outside the European Union

There is no unconditional protection for these names on products both made and sold outside the EU. However there are a number of bilateral agreements with the EU for some level of enforcement. Agreements of this type exist between the EU and Australia (wine, 1994) (but not cheese), Canada (wine and spirits, 2003), Chile (wine and spirits, 2002), Colombia (2007, coffee) Mexico (1997, spirit drinks), South Africa (2002, wine and spirits),[2]

Australia

Following an agreement during the 1990s by the Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation and the Australian and EU governments, the others' GIs and the nations' traditional terms of winemaking were meant to have been protected by 1997. However, this has been proceeding slowly, and while some GIs have been protected in Australia, others are still available for use (primarily for products that have always been called that). It seems unlikely it will have any effect on colloquial speech in the short term.

Colombia

Colombian coffee was protected by the PDO in August 2007.[6]

Canada

In Canada, a 2003 agreement made with the EU provides for protection of the names of wine and spirits. The new classification of names will be done in phases. By the end of 2013, all of the affected names will be protected, including Chablis, Champagne, Port, and Sherry.

United States

The United States generally opposes protection of geographical designations of origin (since many of these that are protected elsewhere are commonly used generic terms in the United States, such as parmesan cheese). For example, one can buy American champagne, feta, gruyère and camembert. However, there are some groups that have some degree of protection for their regional designation. For example, Vidalia onions must be produced within a certain region around Vidalia, Georgia, as defined by the Georgia Department of Agriculture, and 100% Florida orange juice is certified as being such by that state's Department of Citrus. Some of these marks are protected in the United States under certification mark law, such as the Idaho Potato Commission's "Idaho" and "Grown in Idaho" registered trademarks for potatoes. On the other hand, there also are cases in which a geographical name has been trademarked for a particular product that might not even be manufactured there, such as Philadelphia cream cheese. However, there is little impetus to extend further recognitions at the federal level. Only products that are either made or sold in the EU are subject to the EU regulation.

List of products with PDO/PGI/TSG classifications

A complete list of agricultural products with a European Union Protected Designation of Origin (PDO), Protected Geographical Indication (PGI), or Traditional Speciality Guaranteed (TSG), listed alphabetically by nation, is at the European Agriculture site.

For and against Protected Status

The EU strives to promote this kind of protection within WTO, e.g., via a database of multilateral registers. The general aims of the regulation are to allow regional producers of goods to maximize both quality and profits on local goods. They also intended to allow local know-how and expertise to continue and thrive and to prevent the over standardization of different food stuffs.

While having supporters, there is also some opposition to these regulations. The following arguments are amongst those put forth:[2]

  • The potential complexity of the registers may be abused
  • Emigrants may want to continue to make their native products
  • Many producers will be affected by the necessary rebranding to avoid narrowing or even closing the markets
  • Extra costs may be incurred by governments, businesses, and consumers

See also

References

External links


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