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Origin and quality labels

October 24, 2022

Within the framework of the European Union, quality regimes known as Protected Designation of Origin (PDO), Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) and Traditional Specialties Guaranteed (TSG) exist to protect agricultural and food products, as well as wine products.

These regimes are set up to help producers of products linked to a geographical area, ensuring them fair remuneration for the quality of their products, protecting the names of these products as Intellectual Property rights, protection which is uniform throughout the European Union.

In addition, they provide consumers with clear information on the properties that bring added value to these products.


How are they different?

Protected Designations of Origin (PDO) and Protected Geographical Indications (PGI) coincide in that both have a name that identifies a product originating from a specific place and that there is a link or cause-effect relationship between the specific characteristics of the product and the geographical environment of the area.

However, there are two fundamental differences between both figures. While in the PDO all the production stages are carried out in the identified geographical area, in the PGI only one of the stages must be carried out in the geographical area that is the object of protection.

Hence, in PDOs the link between the product’s characteristics and the geographical area is stronger, since the products’ characteristics are fundamentally or exclusively due to the geographical area, while in a PGI it is only necessary for a quality, reputation or characteristic to be due to the geographical area.

The following products are eligible for protection under the PDO or IGP regime:

  • PDOs and PGIs for wine products, products of agricultural or food origin.
  • Geographical Indications for spirit drinks, aromatised wines, aromatised wine-based beverages and aromatised wine-product cocktails.

The Traditional Specialty Guaranteed (TSG ) does not refer to geographical origin, but is established to protect traditional production methods and recipes.

It aims to help producers of traditional products to market their products and to inform consumers of the value-added attributes of their traditional recipes and products.

The PDO/PGI/TSG can only be applied for by groups working with the products whose name is to be registered (although exceptionally they can be registered by a natural or legal person) and are identified by the following symbols:


The scope of the protection

Once registered, the PDO/PGI will be protected against:

Any direct or indirect commercial use of a registered name on products not covered by the registration, when such products are comparable to products registered under that name or where the use of the name takes advantage of the reputation of the protected name, including where such products are used as ingredients.

Any misuse, imitation, or evocation, even if the true origin of the products or services is indicated or if the protected name is translated or accompanied by expressions such as “style”, “type”, “method”, “produced as in”, “imitation” or similar expressions; even when such goods are used as ingredients.

Any other false or misleading indication as to the provenance, origin, nature, or essential characteristics of the goods, used on the packaging or wrapping, in advertising or in documents relating to the goods in question, as well as the use of packaging which by its nature is likely to create an erroneous impression as to their origin.

– Any other practice that could mislead the consumer as to the true origin of the product.

The registration of a TSG shall be protected against any misuse, imitation, or evocation and against any other practice liable to mislead the consumer.

Plans for the near future

Finally, it should be noted that the European Union is currently in the process of approving a new (EU) Regulation on Geographical Indications for artisanal and industrial products that are based on the originality and authenticity of the traditional practices of their regions, such as Murano glass, for example.

One of the novelties of this protection system will be the intervention of the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), which will be in charge of its evaluation and approval.

Article by Teresa Gonzalez

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