The EU has adopted a new regulation for spirits that defines labelling standards and strengthens the protection of geographical indications (GI) compared to trademark rights. It will enter into force after official publication in the Official Journal of the European Union and will be largely applicable until 2021.
The new Regulation clarifies the standards for the description and labelling of spirit drinks and harmonizes indications such as the maximum permitted sugar content. With regard to geographical indications, the Regulation strengthens GIs against conflicting trademarks. Compared to the WTO TRIPS Agreement, the new Regulation provides an additional seven years of protection for GIs. According to TRIPS, the first-in-time, first-in-right principle would apply in the event of a collision between a geographical indication and a trademark.
To date, most GI right holders still opt for protection by a collective or certification mark in China. To reduce the cost of securing and enforcing their rights in China, we recommend that smaller GIs act through their regional or national associations.