20 June 2016Trademarks

Cornish pasty and Scotch whisky associations back EU remain campaign

The associations representing Cornish pasties and Scotch whisky have backed the campaign for the UK to remain in the EU, saying a vote to leave would threaten intellectual property protection they receive through EU legislation.

The Cornish Pasty Association (CPA), which revealed it had been asked “numerous times” for its stance, said it would be inappropriate to support anything that could potentially damage the recognition it gets through the EU Protected Food Names scheme.

Jason Jobling, chair of the association, said: “As an organisation that has benefitted from the EU Protected Food Names system … the CPA supports Britain remaining in the EU and being able to participate in that system.”

He added that there was “no clear evidence available” to demonstrate that the UK leaving the EU would enable that protection to continue.

A Cornish pasty, a D-shaped pastry filled with beef or vegetables, was granted protected geographical indication (PGI) status in 2011.

PGI status means that throughout the EU only products that are made with the approved recipe can be marketed under the relevant term.

Marion Symonds, boss of Portreath Bakery in Cornwall, told news agency Agence France-Presse today, June 20, that if the snack lost its PGI status [in the UK] then similar products made outside Cornwall could also be called Cornish pasties, which could compromise quality.

In May, Boris Johnson, a member of the UK parliament who wants to leave the EU, was criticised after waving a Cornish pasty around at the start of his campaign.

Earlier this year, the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA), which protects and promotes whisky produced in Scotland, also backed the campaign to remain in the EU.

Chief executive David Frost said: “The EU’s single market, including its regulation of food and drink, and its single trade policy, are central to Scotch whisky’s success. The single market lets us trade across the EU simply and easily.”

Scotch whisky also has PGI status, granted in 2008.

There are just three days to go before the UK goes to the polls for an ‘in or out’ referendum on EU membership. Opinion polls suggest the result hangs in the balance.

Roland Mallinson, partner at law firm Taylor Wessing, said a potential ‘Brexit’ would be unlikely to have a material impact on the protection that either association enjoys in the long run.

“As with those that are protected by pan-European but not national UK trademark registrations, it seems likely that the terms of any Brexit will include a provision to ensure that largely the same protection can be obtained before as after.

“PGI protection can already be available for associations equivalent to the CPA and SWA that are based outside the EU. Presumably, the UK government would ensure there is such protection here and, if so, it just means they would have two rights to administer and enforce going forward: one in the UK and one for the EU.”

Mallinson added that though it would “increase their costs a bit”, it should still mean that, after any potential ‘Brexit’, a "Cornish pasty served in Italy, Estonia or Poland will be the real thing and that there will be no Scotch whisky produced in Sweden".

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