IP
January 14, 2019

Comments sought on Geographical Indication protection in the EU-NZ FTA

NZ Foreign Affairs and Trade Manatū  Aorere is consulting on the geographical indications that should be protected in the EU-NZ free trade agreement currently being negotiated.

Definition

A geographical indication (GI) is a name that identifies a product as originating from a particular place, where there's something about that place that contributes to the reputation, quality or characteristics of the product. Once a GI is protected under NZ law, only genuine products originating from the relevant place, and produced in accordance with the particular standards applied to those products can be labelled and marketed using the GI.

Closer to home

The EU has presented to NZ a long list of food products, wines and spirits that have GIs it would like protected through the FTA. If accepted by NZ, this will then restrict NZ producers' ability to use these names to refer to their products.

The list includes some GIs that will be familiar to New Zealanders, like Prosciutto di Parma for ham, Champagne for wine, and Scotch Whisky for spirits.

The list also includes some GIs that will be unknown to most New Zealanders, like Vorarlberger Bergkäse (an Austrian cheese), Jijona (a Spanish nougat), Drniški pršut (a Croatian dry cured meat), Sjeverna Dalmacija (a Croatian wine), and Hüttentee (a German spirit).

And the list also includes some names familiar to New Zealanders, and which some may regard as generic names that could be used on any product of that style, like Gruyère and Roquefort for cheese, Beaujolais and Port for wine, and Irish Cream for spirits.

The ministry is seeking comment about this list, and in particular whether granting protection for any of these GIs in NZ will have a negative impact (for example, whether the GI is already in common use). Any objections need to be substantiated, and need to be provided by 19 March 2019.

The ministry is also seeking submissions on what GIs NZ should ask the EU to protect, as part of the FTA. Likely examples include the NZ wine regions, Bluff oysters, and possibly other goods like Nelson hops and manuka honey.

This is a great opportunity for NZ producers to achieve protection of these product designations in the EU, and one that NZ producer organisations should not miss. The scope of this, and the changes that may be made to NZ GI registration law to allow for protection of food product GIs (our current law only protects wine and spirits) is also a good opportunity for food producers in NZ to push for GI protection for their products.

The deadline to nominate any NZ GIs for protection is also 19 March.

More information about this can be found at the ministry's website here. Please get in touch if you need more information, or would like any help preparing your objection or submission.

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However, as AI applications become more autonomous, and make creative decisions with minimal human input, a question arises as to whether this is the right outcome. 

Our Copyright Act is currently under review and one of the questions MBIE has posed relates to whether the current rules relating to computer generated works are still fit for purpose and whether any changes are required. The first round of submissions are now closed, but watch this space if you would like to keep up to date on where we land on this issue.       

If you have any questions relating to adoption or use of AI technology, please get in touch.

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