The Council of Ministers has approved the bill and wants only minor changes, e.g. that the award procedure be less expensive for applicants
Protected Geographical Indications (GI) have so far only existed in the EU for foodstuffs. Examples are Champagne or Parma ham: they may only be sold under these names in the EU if they have been pressed according to the traditional method in Champagne or cured according to the old tradition in Parma. To transfer this name protection also to products from the craft or industry, the European Commission sent a legislative procedure on the way after long preliminary work in April 2022.
It would also affect individual natural stones, provided that the relevant associations or groups submit an application and are successful.
It is well known that such trademark protection goes far beyond name recognition and enhances the product as something special because it has achieved the title in a recognized process.
Now the legislative process has cleared an important hurdle: At the end of 2022, the Council of Heads of State and Government of the 27 EU member states approved the Commission’s plan in principle and passed it on to the EU Parliament with only minor requests for changes. At the moment it looks as if a decision could be made there this year so that the Protected Geographical Indications also for natural stone will come into force as planned by law on January 01, 2024.
Applications can then be made to the EU Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO).
The amendments of the Council of Ministers can be read in a pdf (see link below). We pick out the two most important ones:
* on the one hand, the filing of applications shall become more cost-efficient. In the Commission’s proposal, there was talk of costs of €50,000 – the Council wants a “balanced regime for fees“ that does not keep small businesses away.
* On the other hand, the Council of Ministers wants “a lighter control system“ to monitor compliance.
A positive sign of the Council in favor of name protection was a so-called “General Approach“ in December 2022: this means that the Council has sent a working paper to the Parliament, so to speak, in which it sets out its wishes for changes to the Commission’s proposal.
This is understood as a wish for the procedure to go through parliament as early as possible with the 1st reading. Now, there are now direct talks between both sides before the reading in parliament.
United Kingdom: “Breathtaking lack of understanding“
Curiosity aside: recently, the British trade magazine Stone Specialist reported a letter from the head of Albion Stone, Michael Poultney, to the government in London to adopt the coming Protected Geographical Indications also for his Portland limestone. This is possible despite Brexit and has long been practiced in other matters by countries such as Switzerland and Norway.
However, he received a refusal from London, saying that they wanted to leave it at the old familiar Trade Marks on the island.
The Stone Specialist reflects the anger of Michael Poultney, according to whom the response from London “displays a breathtaking lack of understanding“ on the part of the British authorities about the content and significance of the GIs.
Statement of the Council of Ministers (on the top right of that webpage you can choose the language)
(06.02.2023, USA: 02.06.2023)