oriGIn Alerts 13 November 2018: #Japan #EU #EPA #Malawi #CAP #Harmonization #Protection

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#Japan #EU #EPA: the EU/Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) provisions on GIs poised to come into force by the end of the year

On 5 November, the International Trade (INTA) Committee of the European Parliament recommended to approve the EU/Japan EPA .The EPA ratification procedure will be completed by a plenary vote of the European Parliament as well as by the approval of the Council, both scheduled in December 2018. 

Like in the case of the free trade agreement with Canada (CETA), once ratified, the EPA provisions in areas where the EU has exclusive competence (including the ones on GIs, article 14.22 to 14.30) will be provisionally implemented. The EPA provides for the recognition and protection of more than 200 EU GIs in Japan (with a number of exceptions and limitations), as well as of 56 Japanese GIs in the EU (see Annex 14 B – List of GIs). 


#Malawi: A new Trademark Act – containing GIs provisions – entered into force

On 1 October, the Trademarks Act No 2 of 2018 of Malawi came into force. The Act was published in the Malawi Gazette Supplement on 24 October.

The Trademarks Act No 2 of 2018 contains as well provisions on GIs (Part VII, articles 41 to 46). In particular, registered GIs will be protected even when improper uses are accompanied by disclaimers or expressions such as “kind”, “type’, “style”, “imitation” or “the like” (art. 46.a). In case of infringements, GIs owners and authorized users are given the right to obtain relief by way of injunction, award of damages or any other remedy as the court may consider appropriate (art. 45.1.b).


#CAP #Harmonization #Protection: The reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is an opportunity for GIs, but further works remains to be done

The European Commission (EC), in its proposal of June 2018 for the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy – CAP set a path for the simplification and strengthening of the PDO/PGI systems (applicable to wines and agricultural products). Following this, on 24 October, MEP Andrieu’s report on the proposal for a Regulation modifying the Common Market Organisation (CMO) regulation, Regulation 1151/2012 and Regulation 251/2014, proposed some amendments. 

oriGIn believes that the Commission proposal and Mr Andrieu’s report go in the right direction (last June, we had published a press release to highlight the positive points of the reform). However, further work needs to be done to ensure the reform optimize the EU GIs systems. As a result, oriGIn is working with MEPs to get improvements in the following areas:

  • oriGIn shares the view of the EC that the registration procedures should be made simpler and faster. However, the draft text provides that the EC, when examining the PDO/PGI specifications, may focus exclusively on the aspects relating to IPRs. Product specifications include essential elements which do not concern exclusively IPRs, like production processes, labelling, oenological practices etc. They are crucial elements of PDO/PGI and must be examined by the EC. Limiting the examination to IPRs could lead the EC to transform PDO and PGI schemes into a simple IP protection mechanism. Separating the assessment of compliance with IPRs from the one of product specifications might generate other issues, because Member States have different ways to look at product specifications. This might lead to a lack of uniformity in PDO/PGI registrations.
  • Likewise, oriGIn believes that the PDO/PGI concept is stronger when applied in a consistent manner throughout the EU and a level playing field between the different Member States is ensured. Even if we agree with giving subsidiary powers to Member States to simplify the procedure for registration and amendments, the system must mantain common elements at European level.
  • The EC proposed an amendment to the definition of the PDO that would allow new designations to be registered without systematically demonstrating the impact of human factors. The human factor is crucial in the establishment and maintenance of PDOs and represents one of the very essence of this quality scheme.
  • It is important to strengthen and harmonize the protection framework concerning PDO/PGI, in particular with respect to the abuse of reputation and their use in the domain name space. 



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