"The signing of the Agreement on Geographical Indications (GIs) Protection and Cooperation between China and the European Union (EU) is of great significance. This is an inherent requirement for China to promote high-quality development in the new era, and is the very concrete reflection of building China into an IP power house. It fully demonstrates the Chinese government's firm determination in expansion of opening up and IP protection, which is conducive to establishing a "dual cycle" development pattern in which domestic economic cycle plays a leading role while international economic cycle remains its extension and supplement. It also plays a positive role in promoting opening up in IP sector and safeguarding the legitimate rights and interests of both domestic and foreign companies. The China National Intellectual Property Administration (CNIPA) will continue to beef up GIs protection and prepare the relevant technologies for the follow-up and implementation of such agreement,” said a principal of CNIPA's department of IP protection on September 14 on which the agreement was signed.
The agreement includes 14 articles and seven annexes, stipulating the rules for GI protection and the list of GIs of mutual recognition. According to the agreement, the GIs listed in the agreement will enjoy a high level of protection, and may use the official symbol of the opposite signing party. The annexes to the agreement include 275 GI products from each side, including wines, tea, agricultural products and food. The protection will be implemented in two groups. The first group of 100 GIs from both sides will be protected immediately after the agreement takes effect. The remaining GIs will be protected within four years after the agreement takes effect.
The Agreement boasts three features. First, the Agreement protects a large number of GIs. This is the first time that China and the EU have recognized each other's GIs on a massive scale. The 550 GIs (275 each) protected under the Agreement are all household names with long-established reputation, such as China's Shaoxing rice wine, Lu'an melon-seed-shaped tea, Anxi Tie Guan Yin and wine in Helan Mountain East Region, as well as champagne, Bavarian beer, Parma ham, and Sierra Mágina olive oil from Europe. These GIs will benefit thousands of products and producers.
Second, the Agreement covers a wide variety of products. Chinese GIs listed in the Agreement include not only alcohol, tea, agricultural produce and food, but also those representing our traditional culture and having Chinese elements, such as Xuan Paper and Shu Brocade. This is the first time that the EU has incorporated non-agricultural GIs into an agreement. Previously, the EU's GI agreements only covered agricultural produce, food and alcohol.
Third, the Agreement accords high-level protection. The GIs protected under the Agreement not only enjoy high-level protection in the market of the other party, but are also allowed to bear the official GI symbols of the other party, which will help relevant products expand market effectively. This is also the first time for the EU to allow, by means of an agreement, foreign GI holders to use its official symbols. As of the end of August 2020, China had approved 2,385 GIs products, 61 of which were of foreign origin. There were cumulatively 5,750 GI trademarks in China, and 9,018 companies were certified to be used them.