Brussels proposes protecting craft and industrial products in Europe

April 2022

Craft products are one of the great riches of Europe and although the vast majority of countries (not all) that are part of the European Union have their own legislative framework for designations of origin and geographical indications –depending on each specific case–  until today there was still no comparable figure at Community level.

After years of consideration of this figure, specifically since 2015, the European Committee of the Regions can finally welcome the new proposal from Brussels to protect crafts and industrial products throughout Europe.

The proposal will consist of creating a common European regulation for the recognition and legal protection of industrial and craft products, following the model of the Protected Geographical Indications for food products. In other words, a new regulatory framework is intended to protect the intellectual property of these products, based on the originality and authenticity of the traditional practices of their respective regions.

It is expected that some 800 products across the EU will benefit from this new label. Some of these products are, for example:

– shoes from Elche (Spain),

– knives from Albacete (Spain),

– Murano glass (Italy)

– tweed from Donegal (Ireland),

– Limoges porcelain (France),

– ceramic products from Puente del Arzobispo and Talavera (Spain),

– the indigenous palm tree from Majorca (Spain),

– leather from Ubrique (Spain)

– diamonds from Antwerp (Belgium)

– lace from Bintje (Belgium), or

– Baltic amber (Poland), among others.

What characterizes this label is that it will serve to distinguish products made in a region that have a specific production process, with the aim of protecting producers from fake products, as well as helping them to market their creations, preserve these unique production processes, increase exports, maintain the jobs of artisans and the jobs they generate, and also promote tourism to these regions.

The European system foresees that this figure will come into force in 2024, so that the existing national schemes of geographical indications would be replaced by European industrial and craft products. In this way, protection would be applicable to the entire EU and applicants would not be obliged to apply for it in each country in which they wish to obtain protection, as is already the case with other forms of Intellectual and Industrial Property such as European trademarks, patents or industrial designs.

However, before applying for European protection of the product the application must be made at the national level and subsequently before the EUIPO, which will be the organism that decides whether the protected geographical indication is granted throughout the EU.

Although this is still only a proposal, it is great news for the whole of the EU and even internationally, which aims to advance and preserve the Intellectual and Industrial Property of these local products, their regions and their workers.

Eduardo Zamora | Sara del Río