3 September 2018

EU’s chief Brexit negotiator reveals concerns for GIs in UK

The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier has urged the UK to consider the fate of geographical indications (GI) post-Brexit.

Barnier called for the UK to engage with the topic while speaking during Brexit talks in Brussels on Friday, August 31, as reported by UK newspaper The Guardian.

In its latest White Paper on Brexit, released in July, the UK government said it will establish its own GI system which will provide a “clear and simple set of rules on GIs and continuous protection for UK GIs in the UK”.

While the paper committed to giving continuous protection for UK GIs in the UK, it did not guarantee the rights of other member states’ GIs in the UK.

“The position of the EU is clear: Brexit must not lead to a loss of existing IP rights,” Barnier said.

A statement released today by oriGIn, the global alliance of GIs, similarly said that the future of GIs in the EU and the UK must be resolved to secure “the maximum retention of rights and the minimum disruption of trade” post-Brexit.

In the talks last week, Barnier noted his “concern” for the future of the 3,000 GIs that are currently protected in the EU in a post-Brexit UK, such as Parma ham, Roquefort, Feta cheese, Cognac, and Parmesan cheese.

However, the UK government has claimed that the issue of GIs can only be considered in the context of other trade matters.

A statement issued by Scottish Parliament last month said that the UK has fewer than 100 GI-protected products in the EU. They include Scotch whisky and Cornish pasties.

The Scottish Parliament noted: “The UK government has indicated it wishes to see UK products continue to be recognised in the EU but has thus far been reluctant to commit to mutual recognition of GIs after Brexit.”

In May, The Guardian  reported that Barnier had asked the UK government to produce legislation to protect food and drink products currently protected by the EU’s GI system.

Barnier claimed that the fate of GIs is an issue that must be settled before an exit deal between the EU and the UK can be reached.

Although the UK has committed to convert existing EU trademarks and designs to new UK rights after Brexit, many IP questions remain, such as whether UK chartered trademark attorneys will continue to be able to represent IP owners at the European Union Intellectual Property Office.

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13 July 2018   The UK government yesterday published its latest White Paper on Brexit, but the document leaves several IP questions unanswered, according to lawyers.
23 July 2018   The UK government will convert existing EU trademarks and designs for free after Brexit, according to statements made during a House of Commons debate on Thursday, July 19.