European Union Geographical Indications and changes to legislation

European Union Geographical Indications and changes to legislation

New restrictions will apply to the use of certain geographical indications terms on products as a result of the New Zealand – European Union Free Trade Agreement entering into force.

Updated 9 April 2024

In July 2023, New Zealand signed a free trade agreement (FTA) with the European Union (EU). Under the terms of this EU FTA:

  • New Zealand will provide protection for 1,975 EU Geographical Indications used on a wide range of products, mostly foods and beverages. The EU may also put forward further GIs for protection in New Zealand in the future.
  • The EU will provide similar protection for New Zealand-registered GIs for wines and spirits.

To register and therefore provide protection for these EU GIs, the New Zealand Government is making changes to the Geographical Indications (Wines and Spirits) Registration Act 2006 (“the GI Act”).

A geographical indication (GI) is a sign used on products to identify that the product:

  • comes from a specific territory, region or location, and
  • has qualities, characteristics or reputation essentially attributable to its geographical origin.

A GI helps geographically “brand” a product. It assures that the product is authentic, and that it has specific characteristics due to its geographical origin. For example, the name ‘Champagne’ identifies sparkling wine that comes from the Champagne region in France and meets the requirements of the Champagne GI.

Status of changes to the GI Act

Proposed changes to the GI Act were introduced to Parliament in January 2024 as the European Union Free Trade Agreement Legislation Amendment Bill (“the Bill”). The Bill received Royal assent on 25 March 2024.

European Union Free Trade Agreement Legislation Amendment Bill — New Zealand Parliament

European Union Free Trade Agreement Legislation Amendment Act 2024 — New Zealand Legislation

How a Bill becomes law — New Zealand Parliament

The changes to the GI Act will come into force on 1 May 2024. On this date, the EU FTA will enter into force, and IPONZ will update the New Zealand Geographical Indications Register to include the EU GIs below.

Geographical Indications Register

EU GIs to be protected in New Zealand

The list of EU GIs included in the New Zealand - European Union Free Trade Agreement for protection in New Zealand is available below.

List of European Union Geographical Indications [XLSX, 103 KB]

This list includes some GIs that are currently used by New Zealand businesses on goods that do not come from Europe. Once the changes to the GI Act enter into force, new restrictions will apply to the use of these GIs in New Zealand.

From 1 May 2024, no person or business can use any of these terms on their product unless:

  • they are importing a product that comes from the specific location in Europe that is related to the GI, and
  • the product complies with the requirements of the GI.

If you have existing stock that breaches these new restrictions after 1 May 2024, you can continue to sell this stock until it is exhausted.

For example:

  • A business will not be able to start selling a new balsamic vinegar product using the term “Aceto Balsamico di Modena” unless the balsamic vinegar comes from Modena in Italy and is made according to the rules for its production.
  • A business that is currently lawfully selling a balsamic vinegar product using the term “Aceto Balsamico di Modena”:
    • cannot continue to use the term if the balsamic vinegar does not come from Modena in Italy and is not made according to the rules for its production. Any stock using this term may continue to be sold until that stock is exhausted.
    • can continue using this term in the marketing and sales for this product as normal, if the balsamic vinegar comes from Modena in Italy and is made according to the rules for its production.

A small number of key terms have a phase-out period for businesses to stop using these terms. This is discussed below.  

Restrictions on the use of EU Geographical Indications

The new restrictions will apply even if the product:

  • indicates its true place of origin,
  • uses a translation or transliteration of the GI, or
  • uses the GI accompanied by words such as “kind”, “type”, “style”, “imitation” (or similar).

Some EU GIs have special provisions that either allow for their continued use or support a gradual phase-out of their existing use. These GIs are noted below.

GIs to be phased out

Businesses that are currently using the following terms may continue to use them for commercial purposes until the end of the relevant phase-out period. The phase-out periods are over multiple years, to give users time to change their packaging and associated marketing material.

During the phase-out period, these GIs must be used with a legible and visible indication of the geographical origin of the relevant product. For example, a cheese made in Hawke’s Bay that is marketed as “feta” must clearly indicate that it originated in New Zealand.

List of GIs to be phased out:

GI Descriptor Product Class Phase-out period beginning 1 May 2024

Bayerisches Bier / Bavarian beer*

Beer

5 years

Münchener Bier / Munich beer

Beer

5 years

Feta

Cheeses

9 years

Gorgonzola*

Cheeses

5 years

Grappa

Spirits

5 years

Madeira / Madera

Wines

5 years

Port

Wines

9 years

Sherry / Jerez

Wines

5 years

Prosecco

Wines

5 years

* The terms “Gorgonzola” and “Bavarian beer” are also registered certification trade marks in New Zealand and are subject to additional rules relating to their commercial use.

GIs that may continue to be used on goods made in New Zealand by certain prior users

Businesses that have used the term “Gruyère” or “Parmesan” continuously for at least 5 years before 1 May 2024 may continue to use the term. A list of prior users was established and shared before the EU FTA was signed. You can see the prior user list on the MFAT website.

European Union - New Zealand Free Trade Agreement Implementation — Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade

The use of these terms must be accompanied by a legible and visible indication of the geographical origin of the relevant product. For example, a cheese made in Dunedin that is marketed as “Gruyère” must clearly indicate that it originated in New Zealand.

List of GIs whose use may continue by prior users:

GI Descriptor Product Class

Gruyère

Cheeses

Parmesan

Cheeses

 

GIs with other specific provisions


Once changes to the GI Act enter into force, certain provisions will apply to the use of the following GIs:

GI Descriptor Product Class Specific provision

České pivo

Beer

Protection for this GI is only for its use in the Czech language.

Českobudějovické pivo

Beer

Protection for this GI is only for its use in the Czech language.

Roquefort

Cheeses

This GI does not prevent use of the compound term “Penicillium roqueforti” when referring to mould culture, as long as it does not mislead consumers.

Armagnac

Spirits

Armagnac and the terms “Bas-Armagnac”, “Haut-Armagnac”, “Armagnac-Ténarèze”, and/or “Blanche Armagnac” are all protected.

Alicante

Wines

This GI does not prevent use of the varietal term “Alicante Bouschet”, as long as it does not mislead consumers.

Avola

Wines

This GI does not prevent use of the varietal term “Nero d’Avola”, as long as it does not mislead consumers.

Cariñena

Wines

This GI does not prevent use of the varietal term “Carignan”, as long as it does not mislead consumers.

Zeeland

Wines

Use of “Zeeland” must come with a clear indication that the wine originates from the Netherlands. This GI does not restrict any use of the term “New Zealand”.

More information

IPONZ will provide updates on changes to the GI Act and provisions on EU GIs over time. You can sign up to our ‘Practice notes and legislation updates’ subscriber list to get emails on the changes.

Subscribe to the IPONZ email newsletter

For more information about the EU FTA, please visit the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) website. Please contact MFAT in relation to any questions about the FTA and the EU GIs.

New Zealand - European Union Free Trade Agreement— Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade

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