On 19 December 2018, the New Zealand Government announced it was seeking submissions on lists of Geographical Indications (GIs) that the European Union is asking New Zealand to protect as part of negotiations for a free trade agreement. The lists include GIs for a range of foodstuffs, spirits and wines.
What is a Geographical Indication?
A ‘geographical indication’, or ‘GI’ identifies a good as originating in a specific region where a particular quality, reputation or other characteristic of the good is attributable to that geographic origin. Where a term is registered in a country as a GI, the terms cannot be used in that country on the indicated products unless those products originate from the specified region and are produced in line with the rules. For example, in countries where the term ‘Scotch Whisky’ is protected as a GI, that term can only be used if the whisky is distilled in Scotland and using the specified recipe and process set out in the rules governing the GI.
The practical effect of New Zealand protecting these terms would be that exporters would not be able to use these terms on their goods in New Zealand unless the goods are made in the European region associated with the GI. If you have a registered trademark in New Zealand that is similar to the terms of the list, or you use any of the terms as common descriptors for your goods exported into New Zealand, this process may impact you.
If you have an interest, you may wish to review the list and consider making a submission. The details on what the New Zealand Government is looking for and how to make a submission are on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade website here. The due date for submissions is 19 March 2019.