To create a free trade area with Mercosur, the European Union wants to remove products, namely parmesan, gorgonzola, Bologna mortadella and more than 300 other items.
An eight page document sent by Brussels to Mercosur has caused concern in the food and beverage industry. The list has 348 items whose names are claimed to be used by the European Union. In it are all products with the so-called “geographical indication”, a term assigned to products that have characteristics associated with a location. The list, however, is not restricted to geographically specific terms. Feta cheese, for example, does not originate in any specific area of Greece, but is on the list.
“Brazil is a country of immigrants who arrived and began to produce here what they used to back in Europe. We cannot accept this,” says Lígia Dutra, the superintendent of international relations of the Confederation of Agriculture and Livestock (Confederação da Agricultura e Pecuária – CNA). The entity is one of those trying to convince Mercosur negotiators to reject or relax the list. Today, there is public consultation on the subject at the National Institute of Industrial Property (INPI), an incentive for the participation of the affected.
The sense of urgency felt by the domestic manufacturers has increased, following signs that negotiations between the two blocs are advancing and there is a chance of a pre-agreement in the coming days.
It is not yet possible to say what the impact would be if Mercosur accepted the EU list. Responsible for the registration of trademarks in Brazil, the president of Inpi, Luiz Otávio Pimentel, says that everything depends on the agreement. “If we accept the list, a Brazilian producer could not, in theory, use the names anymore, but it is possible to negotiate.”
There are cases in which old producers win the right to use the name in court. On the other hand, there are situations in which the use of the term “type” is questioned by the trademark owners.
The EU argues that the geographical indication serves to protect goods against copies, guarantees quality to the consumer and is still to be used as a marketing element. Trade partners however, accuse Europeans of using the instrument as a sophisticated form of protectionism. The strategy seems even smarter because restrictions are also placed on the marketing of these items with third parties.
In fact, even the US reacted after being faced with the progressive talks between Mercosur and EU. Discretely, the country has expressed to South American authorities a position contrary to the European request. China is also currently studying a list, but much smaller than that presented to Mercosur: it only has 100 items. Some markets have already adapted to the geographical indication of the EU. In the United Kingdom, the term “cognac” is used only for the beverage produced in the Cognac region of western France. All other similar beverages are sold as “brandy”. In Brazil, the term is used interchangeably, at least for the time being.
Written by Época Negócios