Belarus files two Belarusian PGIs for protection in the EU, but with a wrinkle

Often lurking outside the spotlight of EU IP law, Protected Geographical Indications (PGIs) and Protected Designations of Origin (PDOs) pose their distinctive set of legal requirements. When you add to this an application from a non-EU country, you get the following.

This Kat got nostalgic
Belarus has recently applied for “Lidski kvass” and “Lidskoe pivo/Lidskae piva” to be registered as PGIs in the EU. Kvass is a traditional fermented beverage, known since the Kievan Rus’, which is popular in many Central and Eastern European countries. “Pivo” and “piva” are Russian and Belarusian words for beer, while “Lidksi” stands for a district in northwest Belarus.

The EU systems foresees two options for a non-EU country seeking to register its geographical indications (GIs) in the EU: through a bilateral agreement (such as the one recently signed with China); or through a direct application.

Direct applications are filed by producers of non-EU GIs to the European Commission, either directly or through their national authorities. This procedure was first introduced through Council Regulation (EC) No 510/2006, after a WTO Panel found that the EU’s previous system limited the rights of non-EU applicants. Cambodia’s Kampot Pepper (PGI “Poivre de Kampot”) became the first foreign GI to be registered directly with the EU, though its registration was managed through an EU technical assistance project.

Unlike Belarus, other Eastern European countries (Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine, and more recently Armenia) protect their GIs through bilateral trade agreements with the EU. Roughly 40 GIs from these four countries are currently in force in the EU. For instance, Georgia has registered its Kindzmarauli wine and Sulguni cheese.

This bilateral route comes as part of broader trade negotiations. For example, under the EU/Ukraine Association Agreement, Ukraine granted protection to some 3000 EU GIs. Eastern European countries also agreed to gradually phase-out the local use of well-known EU GIs, such as “Champagne” or “Roquefort”. Under the EU/Armenia agreement, for example, Armenia was granted a transition period of 14 years to drop the use of Armenian “Cognac”. In exchange, the European Union provides technical assistance, which helps these countries to better identify the GI potential of local designations, or to find a new, local name for “Feta”-like cheese and “Cognac” brandy.

In the meantime, it seems that Belarusian authorities have decided to take the first option, this by directly seeking to register “Lidski kvass” and “Lidskoe pivo/Lidskae piva” as PGIs. The European Commission will now scrutinise the applications, in order to confirm that they meet the conditions under Regulation (EU) No 1151/2012, and publish them for third-party opposition.

Image credit: Nikolay Olkhovoy, Wikimedia Commons, under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported. No modifications were made.
Belarus files two Belarusian PGIs for protection in the EU, but with a wrinkle Belarus files two Belarusian PGIs for protection in the EU, but with a wrinkle Reviewed by Anastasiia Kyrylenko on Tuesday, November 16, 2021 Rating: 5

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