16 August 2017Trademarks

Expanded protection for cheese, ham and beer

September 21, 2017 will mark the provisional entry into force of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). In Canada, Bill C-30 was introduced on October 31, 2016 to implement CETA. One of the primary objectives of CETA is that it will eliminate over 98% of customs fees imposed on goods between the EU and Canada.

While CETA covers a broad spectrum of trade issues, the most significant change on the trademark front is the expansion and protection of geographical indications (GI).

Canada’s Trade-marks Act already has a comprehensive system of registration for GIs. Currently, GIs are only recognised with respect to a limited list of wines and spirits that originate from the territory of a member of the World Trade Organization, ie, a region or locality of the territory where a quality, reputation or any other characteristic of the wine or spirit is attributable to its geographic origin.

The Trademarks Registrar will continue to be responsible for maintaining the list of protected GIs and this will remain unchanged. Presently an application for a GI must be made at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, c/o Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO) by a “responsible authority” that is “sufficiently connected with and knowledgeable of that wine or spirit”. New GIs will probably travel the same route.

There is no provision in CETA which would oblige Canada to adopt a sui generis approach to GIs such as in the EU. However, the agreement does reflect Canada’s resolve to adhere to the EU’s regulations.

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