European Union request for protection of geographical indications in Australia
Consistent with its approach toward other FTA partners, the EU has identified the protection of geographical indications (GIs) as one of its key objectives in the negotiations.
A GI is a name used on a product that has a specific geographical origin and possesses qualities or a reputation that are essentially attributable to that origin. 'Champagne' is a well-known example of a GI. Generally, once a GI is protected, the name may not be used except by producers who meet the rules protecting the GI.
The Government has made no commitment to protect EU GIs. The Government is, however, engaging with the EU on its GI interests as part of the FTA negotiations. In doing so, in 2019 the Australian Government published the EU list of GIs for public objection.
- The Government received over 400 submissions, of varying detail, across a wide range of sectors including dairy, wine, processed meats, beers and spirits, providing a strong platform to continue negotiations with the EU.
- The Government is raising objectors’ arguments directly with the EU, making clear the significant concerns about names widely used by Australian industry.
- The Government is continuing to build on the information received during the objections process, in conjunction with industry stakeholders, to ensure the Government has a comprehensive understanding of the costs that would be associated with the protection of specific terms.
Decisions on EU GIs that may be protected by Australia would be taken by the Government at a later point in the FTA negotiations. Any commitments on GIs in the FTA would depend on the overall outcomes the EU is prepared to offer Australia, including with regard to market access.
Should Australia agree to protect EU GIs in the FTA, reforms would be required to Australia’s legislative framework for the protection of GIs. The Government sought the views of Australian producers, businesses and consumers on possible reforms in a consultation process that ran from September to November 2020.
Running a policy consultation process does not mean the Australian Government has agreed or will agree to make any changes to its existing GI regulatory framework or policy.
Further information is available on the IP Australia website on consultations.
What GI names is the EU seeking to protect?
The EU originally asked Australia to protect 236 spirit names and 172 agricultural and other foodstuff names as GIs in Australia. The names relate to a range of sectors including, dairy, meat, smallgoods, horticulture, confectionery, oils, beer and spirits.
Since the EU submitted its original list of names, the United Kingdom has withdrawn from the EU reducing the list of spirit GIs by two and agricultural and other food stuff GIs by six.