Stakeholders Give Opposing Views On GIs In EU-US Trade Agreement 12/02/2015 by William New, Intellectual Property Watch Leave a Comment Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Geographical indications – product names deriving from geographical origin or certain characteristics – are increasingly on the table when trade negotiations include Europeans, who are trying to recover names long used around the world. In a recent stakeholder event for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), both sides of the GI issue made their case. The European Union is seeking to include GI protections in the TTIP, while the US, which favours a trademark approach to product protection and uses many GI names generically, has resisted. The eighth round of the TTIP negotiations was held last week in Brussels. The Geneva-based Organization for an International Geographical Indications Network (OriGIn) issued a statement on behalf of European GI producers. It said that arguments were made to trade negotiators that GIs are not “protectionist,” and that the US market is a significant commercial opportunity as consumers there are increasing their awareness of food origins, with misleading practices being detrimental to their interests. The group also said that legal costs in the US to protect geographically based trademarks are “prohibitive.” Meanwhile, a group representing the use of generic food names argued its view. The US Dairy Export Council (USDEC), an active member of the international Consortium for Common Food Names (CCFN), argued against modelling the TTIP after the EU-Canada free trade agreement which “envisions” the end of the free use of common cheese terms with European origins. The USDEC representative said GIs can work in cases where the common name is combined with a more specific reference to a location (giving the example of “gouda” versus “Gouda Holland”). The USDEC said European to clamp down on common food name use worldwide is closing off export markets for US products, eliminating competition for European products. The group proposed that a separate forum be developed to address differences over GIs rather than drag down the TTIP. Below are the full text of the press releases of each group. oriGIn shapes the debate over T-TIP with evidence on Geographical Indications’ crucial role in creating jobs and protecting consumers Geographical Indications (GIs) associations as well as other pro-GI groups unprecedented presence at the stakeholders’ meeting of the 8th Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) negotiating round sends strong and clear messages that cannot be ignored by negotiators: GIs are crucial on both sides of the Atlantic to create long lasting jobs as well as to protect consumers against unfair commercial practices. The representatives of several European GI groups, either directly associated to oriGIn or working closely with its global network, participated in the 4 February T-TIP stakeholders’ meeting. The representatives of Asiago, Bayerisches Beer, Gorgonzola, Parmigiano Reggiano, Pecorino Romano, Pruneaux d’Agen, Istituto Salumi Italiani Tutelati (ISIT), the Associazione Italiana Consorzi Indicazioni Geografiche (AICIG) and the Conseil National des Appellations d’Origine Laitières (CNAOL) provided evidence with respect to some crucial elements of the debate: – Any attempt to describe GIs as a protectionist tool are far from internationally undisputed rules as well as the U.S. market reality; – The U.S. market offers interesting commercial opportunities mainly due to the fact that consumers are increasingly interested in the origin of food; – Misleading practices currently tolerated in the U.S. are detrimental to American consumers; – Legal costs to protect and enforce geographically-based trademarks are currently prohibitive in the US. “We understand that the T-TIP is mainly about establishing the conditions for the creation of sustainable jobs on both sides of the Atlantic, which is one of today’s major challenges. Being ambitious on GIs in the T-TIP will contribute to fulfil this objective,” concluded Mr. Vittori. About oriGIn: The Organisation for an International Geographical Indications Network – oriGIn – is the global alliance of Geographical Indications, representing 400 associations and some 2 million producers from 40 countries. For more information: http://www.origin-gi.com. — U.S. Dairy Industry Drives Home Concerns on Geographical Indications and Common Food Name Issues During TTIP Stakeholders Forum (Brussels, Belgium, February 4, 2015) The U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC), an active member of the international Consortium for Common Food Names (CCFN), today briefed U.S. and EU negotiators on deep-set concerns with the EU’s current approach to protections for geographical indications (GIs). The presentation was made during the stakeholder briefings here in conjunction with this week’s U.S.-EU talks on the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). USDEC’s Brussels Representative Maike Moellers made three central points to negotiators, points that are also supported by CCFN members. The first was that the approach to GIs used in the EU-Canada agreement is wholly unacceptable to producers that use common food names. “Since the conclusion of the EU-Canada agreement, we have heard from the EU side again and again that the agreement with Canada on GIs could be a model for TTIP. This is a notion that we absolutely reject,” she said. Such demands, she added, “would envisage U.S. producers as well as others in the world relinquishing their right to use long-standing generic food names, such as ‘asiago’, ‘feta’, ‘fontina’, ‘munster’ and ‘gorgonzola’.” Moellers noted that roughly $21 billion in U.S. cheese production uses European-origin names, reflecting the immigrant roots in the U.S. that trace back to many European countries. Moellers’ second point was that GIs can be workable when approached correctly. “We do believe that products with a very specific geographic designation included in their compound name, such as ‘Gouda Holland’, can be protected to the benefit of producers and consumers, while the single word ‘gouda’ clearly remains unrestricted and in free usage,” she said. Thirdly, Moellers noted that EU prohibitions are proliferating around the world, spread within trade agreements – such as recent agreements with South Africa and Morocco – and new registrations, most notably the EU’s current movement to register “havarti”, a cheese for which an international Codex standard exists. “As a result of these various efforts,” Moellers said, “competition to EU products is eliminated by restricting third-country markets for U.S. exports. Moellers concluded by again suggesting – as the U.S. dairy industry has done previously – that negotiations on GIs should be dealt with in a separate forum in order to carefully assess the legitimate concerns of both sides, including finding a solution for the reintroduction into the EU market of key U.S. products bearing names that until only recently had been viewed widely throughout the EU as generic – such as U.S.-made “parmesan” and “feta” cheeses. “We must avoid this issue becoming a stumbling block for an agreement that could otherwise present an unprecedented opportunity to boost free trade,” she said. The full remarks can be found at www.CommonFoodNames.com. The Consortium for Common Food Names (CCFN) is an independent, international non-profit alliance whose goal is to work with leaders in agriculture, trade and intellectual property rights to foster the adoption of high standards and model geographical indication guidelines throughout the world. Those interested in joining can find information at www.CommonFoodNames.com. Image Credits: European Commission Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Related William New may be reached at email@example.com."Stakeholders Give Opposing Views On GIs In EU-US Trade Agreement" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.