New Zealand Law Society - Consultation on Geographical Indications open

Consultation on Geographical Indications open

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The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) has released a consultation discussion document which seeks input on one of the European Union's key proposals in the EU-New Zealand negotiation on the framework for protection of geographical indications.

MFAT says the EU has put forward a number of proposals that, if accepted, would require significant changes to New Zealand's current law relating to geographical indications (GIs).

"For example, the EU wants GIs for foodstuffs like cheeses to have a higher level of protection. Amongst other things, the EU wants express rules that would stop an unauthorised cheese producer labelling its cheese as being 'like' or 'in the style of' a GI protected cheese name.

"The EU also wants broader protection to apply in New Zealand for all GIs generally. This would include GI protection stopping unauthorised use of, not only the protected GI, but also words or images that may call to mind or 'evoke' the GI (in the EU).

"For example, in the EU, the 'Scotch Whisky' GI was used to stop a German whisky producer naming its whisky 'Glen Buchenbach' after the EU courts found the word 'Glen' (Scottish for stream) evoked the GI 'Scotch Whisky'."

Part of free trade agreement negotiations

MFAT says New Zealand and the EU launched negotiations for a free trade agreement in June 2018.

It says that as part of the negotiation, the EU wants New Zealand to protect GIs in much the same way as they are protected in the EU. This would mean significant changes to existing New Zealand laws that give protection to GIs.

Submissions on the discussion document close at 5pm on Friday, 27 March 2020.

MFAT says the EU has put forward its proposals as part of its opening position in the free trade agreement negotiation. MFAT will negotiate these proposals as part of the wider negotiation of the range of issues addressed within the free trade agreement.

"Your feedback will help Ministers decide what position New Zealand will take in the negotiations to get the best outcome for New Zealand and will allow negotiators to engage in further discussions with the EU.

"Ultimately, New Zealand’s agreement to some or any of the EU proposals will be subject to a satisfactory outcome in the overall agreement for New Zealand. However, the EU has made it clear that protection of EU GIs in New Zealand will be an essential part of any final agreement."