EU Agrees To Accede To Controversial WIPO Agreement Raising GI Protection

European Union member states today agreed to accede to an agreement negotiated under the World Intellectual Property Organization that raises protections for geographical indications, products whose names derive from a particular regions with certain characteristics. Joining the so-called Geneva Act establishes a GI register for agricultural and non-agricultural products and appears to have the effect of requiring EU members to protect registered GIs of other members.

It was unclear at press time what impact this will have for non-EU nations selling products in the EU. Intellectual Property Watch will seek to provide a fuller analysis of this action shortly.

EU ambassadors meeting today approved accession to the Geneva Act of the Lisbon Agreement for the protection of appellations of origin and their international registration. The Geneva Act was negotiated by a small number of countries at WIPO in 2015, with opposition from some other WIPO members. It is unclear if the EU will count as one member, 28 members, or another number of members. Several EU states are already signatories to the Geneva Act. [Update: A Council press person told IP-Watch, “When the EU accedes it will be considered as a separate contracting party. That will also be the case with any EU member state that decides to ratify or accede.”]

The move into non-agricultural GIs is seen as a significant shift, and received special treatment in the agreement.

The 32-page agreed text of the regulation is available here [pdf].

Today’s European Council press release is reprinted below:

EU to accede to international agreement on appellations of origin and geographical indications

The EU is acceding to the Geneva Act of the Lisbon Agreement for the protection of appellations of origin and their international registration (‘the Geneva Act”). Member states’ ambassadors meeting in Coreper today approved the agreement reached by the Romanian presidency of the Council with the European Parliament on a draft regulation enabling the EU to exercise its rights and fulfil its obligations as a contracting party after this accession.

The Geneva Act of the Lisbon Agreement is a treaty administered by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). It expands the scope of the Lisbon Agreement to cover not only appellations of origin but also geographical indications and allows international organisations (such as the EU) to become party to the Lisbon Union established under the Lisbon Agreement.

Each contracting party is obliged to protect on its territory the appellations of origin and geographical indications of products originating in other contracting parties.

The EU has exclusive competence for the areas covered by the Geneva Act. However, member states are authorised to accede to the Geneva Act alongside the EU and in the interest of the EU in order to ensure the EU’s voting rights.

Next steps

After its endorsement by the European Parliament’s Legal Affairs committee, the regulation will be adopted by the European Parliament and by the Council. Adoption by the Council will take place simultaneously with the adoption of the Council decision authorising the EU’s accession to the Geneva Act once the European Parliament has given its consent.


Seven EU member states are contracting parties to the Lisbon Agreement: Bulgaria (since 1975), Czech Republic (since 1993), Slovakia (since 1993), France (since 1966), Hungary (since 1967), Italy (since 1968) and Portugal (since 1966). Three EU member states have signed but not ratified the Agreement (Greece, Romania and Spain). The EU itself is not a contracting party as the Lisbon Agreement only provides for membership of States, not international organisations.

Read the agreed text of the draft regulation

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