From October 2016 to March 2017 the team is joined by Guest Kats Rosie Burbidge and Eibhlin Vardy, and by InternKats Verónica Rodríguez Arguijo, Tian Lu and Hayleigh Bosher.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

"FAGE, Feta, Fontina": GIs come under scrutiny

Last week this Kat attended "Geographical Indications: FAGE, Feta, Fontina, and the battle for world markets", this being a seminar organised by AIPPI UK and held in the cosy comfort of the London office of Freshfield Bruckhaus Deringer.  The speakers were Wolf Meier-Ewert (Counsellor, IP Division, World Trade Organization) and Dev Gangjee (Associate Professor, University of Oxford). In the chair was Sir Richard Arnold, who will rarely have an easier time chairing any event: both Wolf and Dev were as charming as they were fluent and, since they had carved up the topic so well between them, there were no problems of overlap or of important issues falling between the two of them.  There were exactly the right number of questions to fill the gap between the last audible syllable of Dev's presentation and the first confident crunch of teeth on canapés as the reception got underway.

This event being conducted under the Chatham House Rule [though this Kat can't for the life of him see why], it would be imprudent for this Kat to pin the things that were said to the people who said them -- though he can say that the speakers reviewed the historical context and development of GIs, the international structure of GI protection, the tensions between those nations seeking protection through trade mark registration and the larger number that prefer sui generis rights. Also covered were issues of genericity, the extension of protection beyond consumables to manufactured craft products and prospects for a future in which bilateral trade agreements are increasingly forcing the pace.

Smoky checks the cupboard for PGIs ...
This Kat asked his usual question about why there doesn't seem to be any research into the extent and effect of "GI creep", as amendments to GI registrations in the European Union are increasingly amended, usually either to cover a larger territory or to reduce the criteria listed in the specification which require compliance if use of the GI is to be permitted.  He also made the point that there's little advantage to be gained by most businesses in the EU in promoting the PGI logo (above, left) which only 8% of consumers apparently recognise: by promoting it they are also promoting their competitors at the top end of the market who are also entitled to use it, while promotion of their own trade mark should give them a better return on their marketing expenditure. The important thing, he thinks, is that the logo should be recognised and respected by competitors, distributors and retailers.

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