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Iowa Ag Review

Abstract

What do Vidalia onions, Wisconsin cheese, and Kona coffee have that feta cheese, champagne, and cognac do not? The first three products have trademark protection for their brand names (in this case, through U.S. trademark law). The latter three have no brand name protection, but that could change. Protection would become available for the latter products if E.U. proposals to increase protection for products identified as originating from a particular geographic region—so-called Geographical Indications (GIs)—are adopted. The European Union proposes to (1) establish a register of GIs that would give protection to products across international boundaries; (2) extend the protections that are enjoyed by wines and spirits to food products; and (3) allow E.U. member countries to retrieve or “claw back” GIs currently being used by other countries. The first 41 products with GIs that the European Union wants to protect are shown in the accompanying box.