Prior to 1 January 2021, the EU schemes applied to the whole of the UK. Since then, and under the NI Protocol, the UK schemes apply to products sold in GB whilst the EU schemes apply to products sold in NI and the EU.
All product names protected in the EU on 31 December 2020 following successful applications to the EU GI schemes continue to be protected under the UK and EU GI schemes.
What are Geographic Indications/Protected Food Names?
Geographical Indications (GIs) are defined by the World Trade Organisation as place names used to identify the origin and quality, reputation or other characteristics of products. Each country in the WTO agreement on trade-related aspects of Intellectual property rights (TRIPS) has its own implementation method for recognising these products.
Responsibility for these schemes in the UK sits with Defra. DAERA has a supporting role.
An individual or business does not own a GI. Any producer can make and sell a product under a registered product name if they:
- follow the product’s specification
- are verified to do so.
The EU schemes
The EU GI schemes protect registered product names when they are sold in NI and the EU and give them legal protection against imitation.
There are four EU GI schemes:
- Protected designations of origin (PDO) for agricultural products and foodstuffs, and wines
Open to products which are produced, processed and prepared within a particular geographical area, with features and characteristics which must be due to the geographical area.
- Protected geographical indications (PGI) for agricultural products and foodstuffs, and wines
Open to products which must be produced or processed or prepared within the geographical area and have a reputation, features or certain qualities attributable to that area.
- Traditional speciality guaranteed (TSG) for agricultural products and foodstuffs
Open to products which are traditional or have customary names and have a set of features which distinguish them from other similar products. These features must not be due to the geographical area the product is produced in nor entirely based on technical advances in the method of production.
- Geographical indications (PGI) for spirit drinks and aromatised wines
Open to products with at least one stage of distillation or preparation within the geographical area and have a reputation, features or certain qualities attributable to that area.
Northern Ireland has four agri-food products registered with the EU, namely Comber New Potatoes, Armagh Bramley Apples, Lough Neagh Eels (all PGIs) and Lough Neagh Pollan (PDO). There are also three all-island GIs for spirit drinks which may be produced in Ireland or Northern Ireland: Irish Whiskey, Irish Cream and Irish Poteen (GIs). Product names on the register can be viewed on the EU Quality products register.
The UK schemes
The UK GI schemes protect registered product names when they are sold in England, Scotland and Wales. The UK schemes and designations are broadly similar to the EU schemes and may protect:
- Food, agricultural products, beer, cider and perry
- Aromatised wine
- Spirit drinks
More information on the 4 UK schemes can be found on the .gov.uk webpage ‘Protected geographical food and drink names: UK GI schemes’ .
Products registered on the EU schemes prior to 1 January 2021 have been automatically transferred to the UK schemes. Product names in the schemes can be viewed on the UK GI scheme registers.
Logos for protected products in schemes
It is mandatory for agri-food products to include the relevant EU scheme logo on their product when sold in the EU and NI. The use of logos is optional for wines and spirit drinks. More information on the logos is available on the 'Geographical indications' section of the EU website.
It is mandatory for existing agri-food products under the UK schemes sold in GB to use the appropriate logos by 1 January 2024. Newly registered products must use the appropriate logo from 1 January 2021. The use of logos is optional for wines and spirit drinks. For more information on the logos and labelling requirements and to download the logos, see UK GI schemes logos and products labelling.
New product names joining schemes
To protect a product name in NI and the EU, you can apply under the EU scheme via Defra. More information is available from DAERA or on the 'Northern Ireland applicants' section of the .gov.uk website.
To protect a product name in Great Britain, you can apply to the UK GI scheme. Guidance on how to do that is available from DAERA or on the 'Apply for UK GI scheme protection of a new product name' section of the .gov.uk website.
Defra will handle both applications. You must make it clear if you are applying to one or both schemes in your application.
To apply for an all-island GI for a product, the application should be made to the EU scheme. Defra and DAFM would work together on the submission. For more information, contact DAERA – details are below.
Changing/cancelling product names already in schemes
For guidance on how to change/cancel a specification in the UK scheme, please contact DAERA using the details below.
Guidance on how to change a specification in the UK scheme is available on the UK ‘change a protected food or drink product specification’ webpage.
Guidance on how to cancel a registration in the UK scheme is available on the UK ‘cancel a protected geographical product name’ webpage.
GI recognition outside of the UK and EU
EU and UK GIs may receive recognition in other countries as part of an international agreement or via a direction application made to the GI Schemes of the country in question. You can find out in which countries a particular GI has protection on the oriGIn website.
For more information on the EU scheme, please contact DAERA.
For more information on the UK scheme, please contact DAERA or visit the Protected geographical food and drink names: UK GI schemes webpage.
Help with applications
DAERA offers help and advice to applicants in the completion of their applications and acts as a liaison between Defra and the applicant.DAERA Agri-Food Policy II
Upper Newtownards Road
BT4 3SB Telephone: 028 9037 8339