Summary: The new Regulation on Geographical Indication (GI) protection, effective from December 1, 2025, introduces a harmonized framework. Led by the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), it streamlines protection, fosters authenticity, and offers economic benefits. The regulation positions European products for global recognition, encouraging SMEs to proactively engage for enhanced visibility and market access.

On November 16, 2023, a pivotal moment unfolded in the European Union as the Regulation on Geographical Indication (GI) protection for craft and industrial products (CIGIR) came into play. This game-changing move, effective from December 1, 2025, sets the scene for a harmonized framework, offering unprecedented protection for names deeply entwined with the authenticity and traditional skills of European regions.

Harmonizing Protection for Craft and Industrial Products

In the historical context, GI protection focused mainly on agricultural products, leaving a void in safeguarding craft and industrial goods, leading to varied approaches among Member States. The Regulation takes a stride to fix this by introducing a harmonized framework, not only ensuring consistent protection across Member States but also providing an intriguing prospect for non-EU countries. This move aims to foster cross-border collaboration, creating a global platform for the appreciation and preservation of traditional crafts and industrial excellence. It reflects a more inclusive and internationally oriented approach, potentially elevating the status of these products on a broader scale.

EUIPO as the Guardian of Authenticity

In this new era, the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) takes the spotlight as the central authority for GIs of craft and industrial products within the EU. This designation marks a crucial shift towards a more cohesive and centralized approach to GI protection. Unlike the previous landscape with disparate national systems, the EUIPO now serves as the linchpin, streamlining and unifying the process for producers seeking GI protection.

The significance of having a dedicated EU competent authority, such as the EUIPO, lies in the establishment of a standardized and efficient mechanism for safeguarding GIs. The two-phase process, starting with filing GI applications at the national level and then advancing to the EUIPO for further scrutiny, ensures a comprehensive evaluation while benefiting from the collective expertise of a centralized body. A noteworthy facet is the introduction of the direct application procedure to the EUIPO, particularly advantageous for producers in Member States granted derogation from the obligation to maintain a national system. This streamlined approach not only expedites the GI protection process but also signifies a commitment to fostering an environment where authenticity and traditional craftsmanship can thrive unencumbered.

The EUIPO’s growing role as the EU’s competent authority signifies a departure from fragmented approaches, reinforcing a unified commitment to the protection and promotion of European craft and industrial products. This centralized oversight enhances the consistency and effectiveness of GI protection, reflecting a broader strategic vision aimed at preserving the rich tapestry of traditional craftsmanship on an international stage.

Benefits for Producers and Consumers

The benefits stemming from Geographical Indication (GI) registration for craft and industrial producers are multifaceted, offering substantial advantages for both producers and consumers. Producers gaining GI status under the new Regulation gain the privilege to affix the official ‘protected geographical indication’ symbol on their products. This symbol transcends mere representation; it serves as a distinctive hallmark, empowering consumers to make informed choices by easily identifying products with specific characteristics tied to their geographical origin.

Beyond individual products, the impact of GI registration extends to broader economic objectives, particularly in the development of Europe’s rural and less developed regions. The Regulation aligns with a strategic vision that aims to stimulate economic growth in these areas. Incentives embedded in the Regulation, tailored especially for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs), play a pivotal role in fostering economic diversification within rural communities.

The ripple effect is palpable — economic diversification not only fortifies the financial foundations of local businesses but also catalyzes a positive domino effect in these regions. The boost to tourism is a conspicuous outcome, as the unique and authentic products associated with specific geographical areas draw visitors seeking an immersive experience. This, in turn, contributes to the overall economic recovery of these regions by injecting vitality into local economies.

Furthermore, the encouragement of traditional craftsmanship and industrial prowess in rural areas, facilitated by the Regulation’s incentives, serves as a catalyst for job creation and skills development. By empowering SMEs in these regions to leverage their unique geographical attributes, the Regulation becomes a tool for sustainable development, mitigating regional disparities and fostering a more balanced economic landscape.

In essence, the benefits derived from GI registration extend far beyond individual products and producers. They permeate into the fabric of regional development, propelling economic growth, preserving cultural heritage, and providing a tangible pathway towards a more resilient and prosperous future for Europe’s rural and less developed regions.

Internationalization and Future Perspectives

The new Regulation not only reshapes the landscape of Geographical Indication (GI) protection within the European Union but also strategically positions European craft and industrial products for international success.

One of the notable features is the facilitation of internationalization, allowing European producers to extend the reach of their products beyond EU borders. Through the provision of GI protection in non-EU markets that are Parties to the Geneva Act of the Lisbon Agreement, administered by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), European producers gain a formidable foothold in global markets.

The benefits for European producers are far-reaching. Firstly, the internationalization aspect opens up new avenues for market access, presenting opportunities for increased exports and heightened visibility on a global scale. The official ‘protected geographical indication’ symbol, synonymous with quality and authenticity, becomes a powerful tool for European producers to distinguish their products in international markets, fostering consumer trust and preference.

Moreover, the strategic timing of the Regulation’s applicability, set from December 1, 2025, underscores a forward-looking perspective. As the existing national rights cease on December 2, 2026, European producers are poised to navigate this transition seamlessly. The diligence with which the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) is developing advanced IT tools, such as the GIportal and the Union Register, is a testament to the commitment to efficient management and promotion of GIs for craft and industrial products. These tools not only streamline the application process but also contribute to enhanced visibility and accessibility for producers and consumers alike.

The internationalization facilitated by the Regulation positions European producers as global players, fostering cross-cultural appreciation and collaboration. It not only amplifies the economic prospects for individual producers but also bolsters the reputation of European craft and industrial products as symbols of quality and heritage on the international stage. In essence, the Regulation serves as a catalyst for the globalization of European products, propelling them into new markets and ensuring their sustained competitiveness in the dynamic landscape of international trade.

In conclusion, the Regulation heralds a transformative era in the protection of Geographical Indications (GIs) for craft and industrial products, symbolizing a paradigm shift in preserving the authenticity and traditional skills intrinsic to European goods. The initiative not only introduces a streamlined and fortified protection process but also harmonizes efforts with broader economic and internationalization objectives, positioning European products for global recognition and success. As we step into this new phase, it becomes evident that the Regulation is not merely a legal framework but a dynamic catalyst poised to nurture and celebrate the unique heritage of European craft and industrial production.

For Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) seeking to capitalize on the advantages offered by the new system, a proactive and strategic approach is essential.

  • Firstly, SMEs should initiate the GI application process promptly, leveraging the direct application procedure to the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) where applicable. This approach expedites the protection journey, allowing SMEs to swiftly establish their products as officially recognized and protected GIs.
  • Additionally, collaboration and information-sharing within industry networks are paramount. SMEs should actively engage with relevant trade associations, industry groups, and regional networks to stay informed about the latest developments, best practices, and potential collaborations. This not only enhances their understanding of the evolving landscape but also provides a platform for shared experiences and insights.
  • Furthermore, embracing the digital tools provided by the EUIPO, such as the GIportal and the Union Register, is crucial. These resources streamline the application and management processes, offering SMEs a user-friendly interface to navigate the complexities of GI protection. Regularly checking and updating information on these platforms ensures that SMEs remain at the forefront of the GI landscape, maximizing the benefits afforded by the Regulation.

In essence, SMEs should view the Regulation not just as a legal mandate but as a strategic opportunity to amplify the visibility, market access, and value proposition of their craft and industrial products. By proactively engaging with the new system, collaborating within their industries, and leveraging digital resources, SMEs can position themselves at the forefront of the evolving landscape, realizing the full potential of their unique contributions to European heritage and craftsmanship.

About the blogpost author:

Maria Boicova-Wynants is a partner with Starks, an IP and International trade law firm in Ghent, Belgium. She holds LL.B. from the University of Latvia, MBA from Vlerick Business School and LL.M. (MIPLM) from CEIPI. Maria is a Latvian Patent and Trademark Attorney, European Trademark and Design Attorney, as well as European Mediator in civil and commercial cross-border disputes for almost two decades. Her main areas of expertise are IP strategy, contracts, and alternative dispute resolution. She is also a mediator and art law expert on the list of the Court of Arbitration for Art (the Hague), and the Mediator on the WIPO ADR Centre’s List of neutrals.