CCFN Submits Comments on EU GI and IPO System Changes

December 8th, 2021

CCFN submitted two sets of public comments to the EU in response to a proposed revision of its geographical indications (GIs) system and its 2022 EU Intellectual Property Office’s (EUIPO) Guidelines on trademark practice.

In the first set of comments, CCFN emphasized that the scope of protection for EU GIs “creates legal uncertainty” regarding the type of products or business activities that could be a breach of a GI holders’ rights. Additionally, CCFN addressed EU efforts to tie GIs to advancements in sustainability and animal welfare. CCFN argued that a GI regime is not the appropriate venue to address these issues and risks leading to additional direct or indirect restrictions on the use of a new range of terms that could be placed on producers outside the EU. CCFN also went on to point out that the European Commission’s priority should be to eliminate the arbitrary nature of EU GI decisions. The solution that CCFN recommended to solve this issue was to establish a single, independent IP Agency that would manage GI registrations and objectively decide on the oppositions and cancellations filed. With a transparent, truly independent body, the EU could avoid the concession of abusive or unlawful GI-related rights.

In separate detailed comments on the EU trademark guidelines proposal, CCFN emphasized that in the EU’s consideration of any trademark application it must ensure that the name is not “descriptive, generic, or of common use term.” CCFN comments on the proposal’s specific provisions focused on the need for the EU to use a consistent, transparent, and fair process that allows for third party input and the consideration of objective references (e.g., Codex Alimentarius, newspapers, trade, etc.). In addition, CCFN raised concerns about the lack of clarity and broadness of some of the guidelines while others were overly restrictive, all of which could be abused to deny or limit the rights of common name users. Concerns were also raised about how translations of GI names would be treated with CCFN stating that translations should be considered separately as to consumer’s perception of their genericness. Comments also pointed out that trademarks and GIs with generic parts should be allowed to coexist. Finally, CCFN identified that there is an essential need for consistency in how GIs are created, including that all proposed GIs should go through EU’s due process and not be established outside of this process through trade agreements or treaties.