CCFN Ready to Defend Common Food Names on Japan-EU Geographical Indications List

July 19th, 2017

The Consortium for Common Food Names (CCFN) is working to ensure that generic names for certain cheeses, meats, wines and other foods can remain in use in Japan by filing objections to inclusion of such terms on a proposed list of protected geographical indications (GIs) in the Japan-European Union free trade agreement. CCFN commended Japan for publishing the list for comment, a constructive protocol that the EU has not always employed in previous trade negotiations.

“This transparency and invitation for dialogue on the proposed GI list is a very positive step,” said CCFN Senior Director Shawna Morris. “CCFN has no objection to the protection of legitimate GIs – usually compound names that designate a specific geographic location, but we will continue to object whenever the EU falsely claims such generic single names as ‘feta’ cheese and ‘prosecco’ wine, for example.”

The EU and Japan announced the Japan-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (JEEPA) on July 5, and released the GI list “swap” of more than 200 proposed protected names last week. Comments will be accepted on the list until mid-October, after which Japan will make its final decisions on the terms for which protection has been sought.

“We call on producers and organizations around the world to also look carefully at the list and send objections if they find a name to be generic – and therefore a name that should not be granted solely to the EU,” Morris said.

Morris said that Japan so far has set a good example with its GI system, because it requires parties to submit a GI application for review and public comment before the government makes a decision on protecting that name or term. The approvals to date reflect protection of genuine GIs that do not negatively impact use of generic terms.

“Japan’s publication of this food and alcohol list for comment is a welcome move in the right direction,” Morris said. “We look forward to working with Japan to ensure it does not unnecessarily limit trade and competition within its markets.”