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Geographical Indications News – International Updates 

Australia-EU Free Trade Agreement (A-EUFTA) 

In September 2023, we wrote about the state of negotiations for the A-EUFTA and the implications this agreement would have for Australian intellectual property law, particularly in relation to Geographical Indication trade marks.  

The European Union (EU) has a long list of marks it proposed to have protected in Australia should the agreement happen.  However, there is significant fear from Australian producers that these protections could hurt their businesses, forcing rebrandings that would lose their brand, affect their reputation and incur great costs.  

So far, the negotiations for this agreement have stalled, with no outcome resulting from October 2023 negotiations.  

Geographical Indications (GIs) have historically been an essential issue for the EU when negotiating similar agreements, so it will be interesting to see how the negotiations for the A-EU FTA continue regarding this topic.  

NZ-EU Free Trade Agreement 

New Zealand and the EU signed a free trade agreement in 2022, and with it comes new GI rules.  

An important aspect to the EU side of negotiations was that New Zealand should adopt a list of almost 2000 of its GIs for protection in New Zealand.  

In January 2024, the New Zealand government introduced the European Union Free Trade Agreement Legislation Amendment Bill to Parliament, in order to begin the implementation process for this agreement.  It includes amendments to the existing Act regarding Geographical Indications in New Zealand (the Geographical Indications (Wines and Spirits) Registration Act 2006 and the Trade Marks Act 2002), plus updated measures for enforcement.  

There is one notable annex to the agreement on Geographical Indications: prior users of the terms “Gruyere” and “Parmesan” who were using the terms in good faith for at least 5 years before the FTA enters into force, will be allowed to continue using those terms, so long as the actual geographic origin of the goods is indicated. The use of the term “Parmesan” would otherwise be restricted to Parmigiano-Reggiano produced in a specific region of Italy, and “Gruyere” to gruyere cheese produced using a particular method and in specific regions of Switzerland and France.  

Those who engage in trade in New Zealand, particularly in food, wine, and beverages, should review the new list of protected GIs to ensure their products abide by these new GI rules.  

EU Non-agri GI Regulation 

The Official Journal of the EU recently published details of a regulation providing GI protection for non-agricultural products (such as craft and industrial or “CI” products). It entered into force on 16th November 2023 and applies from 1st December 2025.  

The regulation introduces an EU-wide registration process for CI GIs, allowing producers of these goods (e.g. jewellery, cutlery, glass, porcelain, textiles, lace, natural stones, woodwork or hides and skins) to protect the names of these products if they have characteristics or a reputation owing to their geographical origin. Up until now, this form of protection was only able to be undertaken at the national level, which was not available within all EU member states. 

The application process includes both a national and EU-wide stage, but for member states with no system in place to manage CI GIs and show low national interest for such protection, there is the option of requesting direct registration at EU-level.  

In particular, the new GI protection regulations for CI products in the EU will benefit local small-to-medium enterprises and microbusinesses and the overall reputations of the geographical regions to which they belong. Ensuring local cultural knowledge can be legally protected and preserved is expected to boost development in rural areas by encouraging the investment in and purchase of authentic products produced in these areas. 

Overall Impact  

GIs can be a powerful marketing tool both for local producers to differentiate their premium products from competing goods and also for consumers to be assured of the authenticity of the products they are purchasing. They also provide an extra layer of IP protection for products that might not be patentable or have names otherwise distinctive enough for trade mark protection. 

Interested in GIs in Australia or New Zealand? Wondering how these updates could affect or benefit you or your business? Contact the MBIP trade marks team for a discussion today.