Protected geographical indication: a reputation duly established before registration at the INPI has no effect on obtaining protection


If the registrations of a protected geographical indication are not very frequent (4 in 2020 at the INPI of which 2 were approved), the Court of Appeal of Bordeaux had the opportunity to remind the conditions for a geographical indication to be approved.

Following the approval by the Institut Nationale de la Propriété Intellectuelle (INPI – France) of the geographical indication “Pierres Marbrières de Rhône-Alpes” aimed at protecting “limestones formed in the Jurassic and lower Cretaceous eras, extracted from quarries located in a defined geographical area“, an association for the defense of geographical indications filed an appeal against this decision.

In 1994, the World Trade Organization (WTO) recognized, through the ADPIC [1], agreements, the Geographical Indications (GI) as intellectual property rights. They are defined as “indications which serve to identify a product as originating in a territory, or a region or locality of that territory, where a given quality, reputation or other characteristic of the product is essentially attributable to that geographical origin“.

Framed in France by articles L 721-2 to L 721-10 and R 721-1 to R 721-2 of the Intellectual Property Code, protected geographical indications no longer concern only[2]  food products but also industrial and artisanal products.

Each application for registration of a protected geographical indication must be supported by a specification of the indication and a document aiming to establish the representativeness of the operators of the geographical indication within the applicant association. A process of public inquiry and consultation after analysis of the completeness of the application is launched by the INPI.

Although the association denounced the characteristics of the geographical indication “Pierres Marbières de Rhône-Alpes” on the grounds that the criteria of quality, reputation, traditional know-how or other characteristics attributed to the geographical area were not fulfilled, it was nevertheless dismissed by the Bordeaux Court of Appeal.

The Court concluded that “the Intellectual Property Code does not impose conditions of use, reputation or renown” that existed prior to the application for protection as a protected geographical indication. The criterion of reputation “referred to in article L 721-2” of the Intellectual Property Code is optional because it “concerns only one of the characteristics required of products that can benefit from the geographical indication“, according to the Court. The specifications filed were therefore in compliance with the legal requirements.

UGGC and its team of lawyers specialized in intellectual property law are at your disposal to assist you in protecting your legal and economic interests.

By the IP/IT team of UGGC

Source : CA Bordeaux, March 23, 2021, n°19/06730

[1] ADPIC : Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), which integrated intellectual property rights into the WTO system.

[2] Since the LAW No. 2014-344 of March 17, 2014 on consumer affairs

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