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Friday, 12 April 2019 11:46

Europe creeps closer…

Written by  Legal Matters with Jenni Rutter, Partner at Kensington Swan

Since June 2018, New Zealand has been negotiating a free trade agreement with the European Union (EU).

A proposal for reciprocal recognition and protection of geographical indications (GIs) is currently on the table. A GI is a name that identifies a product as originating in a territory, region, area or locality in that territory where a given quality, reputation, or other characteristic of the product is essentially attributable to its geographical origin. 

The New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) is encouraging New Zealand wines and spirits producers to nominate product names to put forward to the EU for GI registration and protection in the EU. The EU will consider any names that are officially recognized as GIs in New Zealand under the GI (Wine and Spirits) Registration Act 2006 or the Trade Marks Act 2002. There is no fee attached to making a nomination.

MFAT also invites producers to submit objections to the recognition and protection in New Zealand of any EU GIs. Producers can consult the lists of wines and spirits GIs the EU is seeking to protect by viewing the list on the MFAT website at https://www.mfat.govt.nz/en/trade/free-trade-agreements/agreements-under-negotiation/eu-fta/consultation/. If the protection of a GI on the list might negatively impact you as a New Zealand grower or producer, you should consider submitting an objection to MFAT. Producers should be aware that the EU is seeking broad protection, and is negotiating to have the listed GIs protected in New Zealand in relation to any products, including ingredients. Wine makers would therefore be wise to consult the list of foodstuffs GIs as well. The EU is seeking protection for the listed GIs to prevent their use even when the true origin of a wine is indicated, or it is made clear that the product is in the “style” or “type” of the GI name. 

An objection can be made on the following grounds:

• the name is identical, or confusingly similar, to a trade mark or GI that is the subject of a pending application or registration under either the Trade Marks Act 2002 or the Geographical Indications (Wine and Spirits) Registration Act 2006

• the name is identical, or confusingly similar, to a trade mark or GI currently in use in New Zealand, the rights to which have been acquired through good faith use in New Zealand

• the name is homonymous with a GI that is the subject of a pre-existing good faith pending application or registration under the Geographical Indications (Wine and Spirits) Registration Act 2006 and that has a different geographical origin

• the name is used in New Zealand as the name of a plant variety, including a wine grape variety, or an animal (including fish) breed

• the name is used in New Zealand as the common name for the relevant good

• use or protection of the name in relation to the relevant good would likely offend a significant section of the community, including Māori.

If you would like more information the process or assistance with lodging your objection or nomination, please contact intellection property experts Jenni Rutter or Charlotte Henley at Kensington

All nominations and objections should be submitted by email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by 19 March 2019. 

For further information on the necessary content and format of nominations and objections, consult
the MFAT guidelines available online at the above link.  

For further information about New Zealand GIs see the IPONZ website at https://www.iponz.govt.nz