The EU Parliament has approved with a large majority the Protected Designations of Origin for natural stones / Validity also online
It is (as good as) done: on September 12, the EU Parliament took the next step
for the protection of brand names of natural stones and natural stone products. If now also the Council of Ministers agrees, which is considered certain, the protection against misleading designations can come into force as law.
In technical terms, it is about the Protected Designations of Origin (Geographical Indications, GI).
The law would forbid, for example, a marble or imitation stone from abroad from being put on sale in the EU as Carrara marble. The only requirement would be that the Carrara region had applied for such a GI for its stone and gone through the procedure.
In the past, there had been more frequent cases of fraud with false brand names, especially in France: Suppliers from Turkey, Spain, and Italy had sold their own limestones under the name of Pierre de Bourgogne, which is very popular in France, in DIY stores or through dealers.
With the help of the GI, the Pierre de Bourgogne association had taken action against this and had also obtained bans in the courts: Some suppliers had to remove from their products misleading additives such as “type Burgundy“ or “stone effect Burgundy.“ The magazine Pierre Actual had reported on this.
We had just reported about “Portland Stone reinterpreted as ceramics“ as a slogan of the Italian manufacturer Ceramiche Keope.
Tiphaine Paquette of the Pierre de Bourgogne Association told us about other cases: for example, travertines or ceramics from abroad had been offered in France as Pierre de Bourgogne limestone.
As she says, the GIs are very helpful for the resistance: the association would address the malefactors, which would usually already make them retreat, and if everything was of no use, one would also go to court.
With the new GI’s, the sword would be much sharper than before, so to speak.
To clarify: the decisive innovation resulting from the current decision of the EU Parliament is that in future the brand name will be protected throughout the EU. Previously, such protected titles had already existed – as in the case of Pierre de Bourgogne, however, their validity had always remained limited to the respective country. This also applied to Carrara marble, for example.
Experts assume that the parliamentary decision will also have an effect on false designations for other target markets.
With the parliamentary decision, products from artisanal or industrial production now draw level with those from agricultural production. For beverages such as champagne or foodstuffs such as Parma ham, the Protected Designations of Origin had long applied.
On the development of the new GIs: It was in 2014 that members of the EU Parliament raised the issue and instructed the Commission to develop solutions. It was expressly stated that the aim was to strengthen traditional crafts in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
The Commission conducted elaborate legal debates on many practical issues of such GIs.
In the end, the issue was so important to the parliamentarians that they wanted to speed up the approval of the Commission’s draft and resorted to a special procedure: when the Commission’s draft was on their table, they asked the Council of Ministers, as the final decision-making body, whether there would be any requests for amendments from there.
There were, and they were incorporated. We reported on this.
Following the parliamentary decision – by the way, with an overwhelming 616 votes in favor, 9 against and 6 abstentions – we can now assume that the Council of Ministers will give its swift approval. Then the law could be published in the Official Journal of the EU in January 2024 and applied 2 years later.
Among other things, the draft law now approved by Parliament will regulate the procedure for where a company or association can apply for protection for its natural stone. As a rule, this will be done at the competent national authority and then confirmed at EU level by the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO).
If a country does not have a corresponding office, the application can also be filed directly with the EUIPO.
If there are violations of the GIs, the companies or associations concerned report this to the national offices, which take further action.
Finally, an important aspect that transfers the regulations to the Internet as well: “The protection of craft and industrial GIs also applies to the domain name space and the online environment,“ the documents state. So the address www.pierre-de-bourgogne in all its variants will be possible to register only for Burgundy.
Decision of the EU Parliament of September 12, 2023
(18.10.2023, USA: 10.18.2023)