EU accedes to international agreement on appellations of origin and geographical indications

The EU is acceding to the Geneva Act of the Lisbon Agreement on appellations of origin and geographical indications (“the Geneva Act”). The Council today adopted a decision authorising the accession of the EU to the Geneva Act and a regulation laying down the rules governing the exercise by the EU of its rights (and the fulfilment of its obligations) under the Geneva Act.

The Geneva Act is a treaty administered by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). It expands the scope of the Lisbon Agreement for the protection of appellations of origin and their international registration (“the Lisbon agreement”) to cover not only appellations of origin but also geographical indications. In addition, it allows international organisations, such as the EU, to become contracting parties.

Each contracting party to the Geneva Act is obliged to protect on its territory the appellations of origin and geographical indications of products originating in other contracting parties.

The EU has exclusive competence for the areas covered by the Geneva Act. In order to ensure the effective participation of the EU in the decision-making bodies created by the Geneva Act, member states can however accede to the Geneva Act alongside the EU. Member states which were already party to the Lisbon agreement before EU accession to the Geneva Act are allowed to remain so.

Following the EU’s accession to the Geneva Act, it will be for the Commission to file applications for the international registration of geographical indications relating to products originating in the EU with the International Bureau of the World Intellectual Property Organization. It will also be for the Commission to request the cancellation of any such  registration. In addition, it will be for the Commission to assess whether the conditions are met for protection to be granted throughout the EU to a geographical indication which has been registered internationally under the Geneva Act and which originates in a third country.

The regulation sets out the rules governing possible conflicts between an internationally registered geographical indication and a trade mark.

It also contains transitional provisions to accommodate those member states that were already parties to the Lisbon Agreement before the EU’s accession to the Geneva Act.

Finally, the regulation contains provisions on financial issues and a monitoring obligation for the Commission.

Both legal acts will enter into force twenty days after their publication in the Official Journal of the EU.


Seven EU member states are contracting parties to the Lisbon Agreement: Bulgaria (since 1975), Czech Republic (since 1993), Slovakia (since 1993), France (since 1966), Hungary (since 1967), Italy (since 1968) and Portugal (since 1966). Three EU member states have signed but not ratified the Agreement (Greece, Romania and Spain). The EU itself is not a contracting party as the Lisbon Agreement only provides for membership of States, not international organisations.