PRACTICE GUIDANCE ON THE TRANSITION PERIOD IN THE WITHDRAWAL AGREEMENT – GEOGRAPHICAL INDICATIONS

Published: 3 February 2020
CIPA has updated its Brexit advice to members, prepared by Alicia Instone, CIPA Vice-President and Chair of the Designs and Copyright Committee with help from Julia Florence, CIPA Immediate Past President. 
The UK IPO have issued new guidance on intellectual property during the transition period. To find out more, click here. 
NB: The Transition Period is currently set to end on 31 December 2020.


The UK has confirmed that it will be setting up its own Geographical Indication (GI) schemes if there is no future economic agreement at the end of the Transition Period that supersedes the Withdrawal Agreement. The schemes will mirror the existing EU schemes and will fulfil the UK’s WTO Obligations.

Department for Environmental, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) will:

  • manage the new schemes;
  • maintain the registers of protected product names; and
  • process new applications.

The UK schemes will protect:

  • food, drink and agricultural products (including beer, cider, perry);
  • spirit drinks;
  • wine; and
  • aromatized wine.

There will also be a scheme to protect the uses of traditional terms for wine names.

The new UK schemes will use the same classes as the current GI EU schemes:

  • Protect designation of origin (PDO)
  • Protected geographical indication (PGI)
  • Traditional Specialities Guaranteed (TSG).

If there is no future economic agreement at the end of the Transition Period that supersedes the Withdrawal Agreement all (88) existing UK products registered under EU GI Scheme will automatically get UK GI status and remain protected in the UK as will any third countries set out in schedule A of the relevant Trade Agreement (such as Switzerland and South Korea, who have both signed the agreements).

If there is no future economic agreement at the end of the Transition Period that supersedes the Withdrawal Agreement existing products (other than the UK) registered under the EU GI scheme may need to re-apply to UK scheme, which will be open to UK, EU and non-EU country producers. DEFRA will publish guidance on how to apply. Provided that the application is made within nine months of exit day the application will retain the same dates that protected under the EU scheme.

Should the UK leave the EU without a future economic agreement at the end of the Transition Period, the Government’s position regarding protection of UK GIs in the EU is that the protection should continue after exit. However, it is possible that the EU may change its rules and decide to remove this protection for UK GIs. If UK GIs are removed from the EU registers, the government will support UK GI holders in reapplying for EU GI recognition.

Practice Point:  if you currently look after any UK originating GIs make a note to check that they have been set up correctly under the new UK scheme once it has been launched.

Practice Point: if you currently look after any non-UK originating GIs, make a note to check to see if they are included in Schedule A of the relevant Trade Agreement and if so that they have been set up correctly under the new UK scheme once it has been launched or, if this is not the case, diarise a nine-month deadline from exit day for applying to the UK scheme should protection in the UK be desired.