Conference Proceedings > Contributions per author > Blank Klaus

EU accession to the Geneva Act of the Lisbon Agreement on Appellations of Origin and Geographical Indications
Klaus Blank  1@  
1 : European Commission [Brussels]
Brussels -  Belgique

It is intended to give an overview of the role of the European Union (EU) and its Member States in the Lisbon System in WIPO. The focus will be on the review of the Lisbon system that started in 2008 and resulted in the adoption of the Geneva Act on 20 May 2015, and on the subsequent preparation and legislative implementation (Regulation (EU) 2019/1753) of the EU's accession to the Geneva Act, which took place upon its entry into force on 26 February 2020.

As the major exporter of products benefiting from GIs, the EU is also a major player in international negotiations on the protection of GIs. For over 20 years, the EU has been following a successful policy of GI protection, mainly for agricultural products, both on the internal market and in third countries. Regarding agricultural products, the EU has in place legislation providing for uniform and exhaustive GI protection systems for wines (1970), spirits (1989), aromatized wines (1991) and other agricultural products and foodstuffs (1992). As for non-agricultural products, the EU stands ready to consider a system of sui generis protection based on an impact assessment of potential costs and benefits. In addition to bilateral and regional agreements with third countries that have the sole purpose of protecting GIs or provide for such protection in a separate section, international GI protection through multilateral agreements plays an increasingly important role.

The new Geneva Act is a potentially significant tool in the EU's international strategy for the protection of GIs around the world in addition to the negotiation of bilateral and regional agreements and efforts to promote the protection of GIs in the WTO, especially if the Lisbon system can be extended to new members.

The Lisbon System consists of the Lisbon Agreement for the Protection of Appellations of Origin and their International Registration of 1958 and its latest revision, the Geneva Act of the Lisbon Agreement on Appellations of Origin and Geographical Indications of 2015. It offers a means of obtaining protection for an appellation of origin or a geographical indication in the contracting parties through a single registration procedure and one set of fees. The currently 30 Contracting Parties of the Lisbon Agreement include 7 EU Member States (Bulgaria, Czech Republic, France, Hungary, Italy, Portugal and Slovakia). The EU as an international organization cannot join the Lisbon Agreement, which is reserved for States. By contrast, the new Geneva Act allows for membership of intergovernmental organizations. In view of the EU's exclusive competence for the Geneva Act as part of its common commercial policy, as confirmed by the European Court of Justice in case C-389/15 - Commission v Council, the EU had to become a member of the Lisbon system.

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