Recently, the European Union requested the New Zealand government register several Geographical Indications as part of a free trade deal.
A Geographical Indication (GI) is a name or logo used to identify the origin of goods (usually food or alcohol), as a country or specific region or locality in that country. Goods produced in the country or region are associated with a certain quality, reputation or some other characteristic attributable to that geographical origin.
Why are GIs important?
A GI is a “collective right” that can be used by all producers in a geographical area provided they comply with specific conditions relating to production. It can be a powerful marketing tool for local producers to differentiate their premium products from competing goods.
An example of a New Zealand GI is ‘Marlborough’, for wine. In New Zealand, winemakers cannot use Marlborough in respect of their wine unless the wine is produced in the Marlborough region and in accordance with any other rules governing the Marlborough GI. Any trade mark filed in class 32 for wine which features ‘Marlborough’ will include a condition of registration to the effect that goods produced under the trade mark originate within the Marlborough region and in accordance with the Geographical Indications (Wine and Spirits) Registration Act 2006 (NZ).
Examples of foreign GIs currently registered in New Zealand include ‘Cognac’ and ‘Scotch Whisky’ for spirits and ‘Napa Valley’ for wine. Again, these names cannot be placed on any goods sold in New Zealand unless they are products in the relevant locality protected by the GI.
Do you trade with New Zealand?
New Zealand food or wine producers, or Australian producers who export food or wine into New Zealand, may wish to check the list of proposed GIs for any marks of interest. Once the new GIs are registered in New Zealand, producers/importers will no longer be able to use the marks on goods in New Zealand unless the goods are made in the European region associated with the respective GI.
A consultation period is now open for submissions in respect of the proposed new GIs in New Zealand. Full details of the proposed GIs and the consultation process can be found here.