EU and China published a list of each party’s 100 Geographical Indications to be protected in view of a new bilateral agreement (expected for 2017)

On 2 June 2017 (see the joint communication here and EU Commission’s press release here), EU and China agreed to reciprocally enhance protection of geographical indications (“GIs”) and to publish a list of 100 European and 100 Chinese GIs that will be considered for benefiting from a new bilateral agreement.

The list of 100 EU GIs (here) includes food products, wines and spirits. eu dop21 EU GIs were already registered locally in China via direct application and will nevertheless be attached to the future agreement. This follows the “10 plus 10” project that in 2012 experimented granting a reciprocal protection to 10 EU and Chinese renowned GIs (here).



The negotiation of the bilateral agreement on reciprocal GIs’ protection started in 2010 and is expected to be concluded in 2017. The recent 19th EU – China Summit (here) has pushed to accelerate works. The publication of each on list of GIs for opposition is thus intended as a way to speed up the finalization of the pending negotiations. Interested parties have now two months for presenting comments to EU and Chinese authorities.

The aim of the agreement is enhancing GIs protection on a mutual basis with the hope of positively influence rural development, spreading local culture and traditions on both sides, and – most importantly – to increase consumers’ awareness and provide new tools for protecting national GIs.

Centrality of GIs in the EU framework is known (though sometimes leads to excessive registrations in terms of figures: the EU Commission counted over 3300 EU names registered plus further 1250 non-EU names registered in the EU GI system – is this really necessary for EU consumers?). And, the Commission estimated the market for EU GIs in EUR 54.3 billion, accounting for 15% of total EU food and drinks exports.

Chinese market is of course one of the largest and is important developing the demand for EU products there. On the other hand, China has a number of local GIs, mostly unknown to EU consumers, that China hopes can be spread in the EU market.

chinese GI

It is known that bilateral agreements are the main tool to extend EU GIs’ protection in other territories, and the new agreement is welcomed. Particular attention shall however be given to enforcing mechanisms (often perceived as the main problem in China, though efforts for developments are in course – see for instance here). Let’s see the next steps.

Francesco Banterle



The Principality of Monaco fails to register its own name as a community trademark

By its judgment of 15 January 2015, T‑197/13 (full text in French here) the General Court of the European Union rejected the opposition against the decision of the OHIM Fourth Board of Appeal of 29 January 2013 (Case R 113/2012 4), refusing the international registration (designating the EC) of the word mark MONACO, for lack of distinctive character. The decision confirms the previous ruling in Windsurfing Chiemsee (C-108/97) and Cloppenburg (T‑379/03): there is a general interest in keeping geographical names free from any exclusive appropriation as trademarks, provided that they have the ability to reveal products or services’ qualities and other characteristics and to influence consumer preferences by associating them with a geographical place which can elicit positive feelings. On this basis, Article 7(1)(b) and (c) Reg. No. 207/2009 on the Community trade mark should preclude the registration of geographical names which designate geographical locations, already famous or known for the category of goods or services in question, and which, therefore, have a meaningful connection with them. In these circumstances, the word ‘Monaco’ was supposed to designate, in the eyes of the public, the geographical origin of the category of services at issue and must remain available to other undertakings’ free and non-exclusive use. Another step forwards the recognition and safeguarding of a public domain’s space in trademark law.

Jacopo Ciani

 General Court (Grand Chamber), 15 January 2015, T‑197/13, Marques de l’État de Monaco (MEM) v. OHIM