In a country of primary importance for Italian exports like Canada, which is based on the trademark system being more important than, not parallel to, the recognition of GIs and which, together with the United States and the Consortium For Common Food Names, has provided fertile ground for the dangerous phenomenon of “Italian sounding”, CETA (Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement) is an important success for European Union negotiations, protecting and enhancing an invaluable economic and cultural heritage.
The new legislation, in addition to providing the abolition of duties on EU exports of food products, requires Canada and the European Union to commit to mutually protect their respective Geographical Indications. GIs thus become an autonomous IP tool, which coexist, independently, with trademarks.
Moving closer, for the first time, to the provisions of the TRIPS Agreement (while being limited to agricultural products and not including “goods” in general), CETA provides that “Geographical Indication refers to indications that identify an agricultural or food product as originating in the territory of a part, or of a region or locality of that territory, if a certain quality, reputation or other characteristics of the product can essentially be attributed to its geographical origin”.
Although there are still critical points regarding a significant level of protection of Italian and European GIs in Canada, there is now a new, concrete space for protecting our flagship products from the “Parma Hams” and “Parmesans” from overseas.
In this context of continuously updating bilaterally recognized PDOs and PGIs, an agile and fast system is now provided to directly file Geographical Indications (relating to food or wine and beverages) in a special Register at the Canadian Patent and Trademark Office, which protection consortia can access directly.
The new simplified procedure requires submitting the application for recognition on dedicated forms relating to wines and food products and paying the administrative fees. During the examination phase, the examiner can request additional information on the GI for which recognition is requested from the local Ministry for Agriculture and Food. After the “Statement of the Minister” has been published on the CIPO website, the phase during which any interested party can oppose the registration of the Geographical Indication begins. If no opposition is presented – or any opposition is successfully overcome – the Geographical Indication is registered in the dedicated list at the local Trademark Office.
We remain available to our Clients for any clarification and insight they require on this topic.