Copa-Cogeca calls for GIs to be protected on the internet

Copa-Cogeca has sent a letter to the EU Commission calling for European speciality products whose names are protected by the European system of geographical indications (GIs) from imitation products also to be protected on the internet.

The move comes after ICANN, the American corporation in charge of allocating new internet domain names, had activated procedures to register new domain names related to agricultural products for private companies in return for payment (for example “.vin” or “.wine”).

After the intervention of the European authorities and Member State governments on 4th April, ICANN provided candidate companies and the wine sector with a new 60-day deadline in order to find a solution to the issue of protecting geographical indications (GIs) vis-à-vis the domain names “.vine” and “.wine”.

The value of European wines with a geographical indication reached as much as 30, 376 million Euros in 2010. Some of these sales already take place online, a trend which is set to become more pronounced in the future. The establishment of new domain names can benefit the European wine sector, as long as their future owner secures their use and protects wine known for its specific qualities and covered by EU legislation on geographical indications (GIs).

“That is why we ask that a system be established which ensures the protection of European geographical indications (GIs) when selling wine on the internet”, Copa-Cogeca Secretary-General Pekka Pesonen said.

He warned “An inadequate solution to this problem may set a precedent for other products covered by geographical indications (GIs) and could weaken the Commissions’ policy to protect GIs, as well as upcoming bilateral free trade negotiations. The free use of these domain names could lead to the misuse of the EU system on GIs and could also mislead consumers about the product”.

Copa-Cogeca consequently urges the Commission to act and protect regional specialities and quality produce covered by GIs during negotiations with ICANN about the domain names “.vine” and “.wine”. It is inconceivable that these domain names be delegated if the candidates cannot ensure the protection of geographical indications (GIs) , Mr Pesonen warned.

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